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MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT AND THE ...

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 127 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT AND THE SUDAN, 1885 TO 1896 The operations against Mandism during the eleven years from the end of the Nile expedition and the withdrawal from the Sudan to the commencement of the Dongola campaign will be more easily understood if, instead of narrating them in one chronological sequence, the operations in each province are considered separately. The mandi, Mahommed Ahmed, died at Omdurman on the 22nd of June 1885. He was succeeded by the principal khalifa, Abdullah el Taaisha, a Baggara Arab, who for the next thirteen years ruled the Sudan with despotic power. Cruel, vicious, unscrupulous and strong, the country groaned beneath his oppression. He removed all possible rivals, concentrated at Omdurman a strong military force composed of men of his own tribe, and maintained the ascendancy of that tribe over all others. As the British troops retired to Upper Egypt, his followers seized the evacuated country, and the khalifa cherished the idea, already formulated by the mandi, of the conquest of Egypt, but for some years he was too much Battle of Hashin. occupied in quelling risings, massacring one Egyptians in the Sudan, and fighting Abyssinia, to move ,seriously in the matter. Upper Egypt.—Mahommed el Kheir, dervish amir of Dongola, however, advanced towards the frontier in the autumn of 1885, and at the end of November came in touch with the frontier field force, a body of some 3000 men composed in nearly equal parts of British and Egyptian troops. A month of harassing skirmishes ensued, during which the Egyptian troops showed their mettle at Mograka, where 20o of them held the fort against a superior number of dervishes, and in combats at Ambigol, Kosha and Firket. Sir Frederick Stephenson, commanding the British army of occupation in Egypt, then concentrated the frontier field force at Firket, and attacked the main body of the enemy at Ginnis on the 3oth of December 1885, completely defeating it and capturing two guns and twenty banners. It was here the new Egyptian army received its baptism of fire and acquitted itself very creditably. Although checked, the dervishes were not discouraged, and continued to press upon the frontier in frequent raids, and thus in many bloody skirmishes the fighting qualities of the Egyptian troops were developed. In April 1886 the frontier was drawn back to Wadi Halfa, a fortified camp at the northern end of the desolate defile, Batn-el-Hagar, through which the Nile tumbles amid black, rocky hills in a succession of rapids, and debouches on a wide plain. The protection of the frontier was now left in the hands of the Egyptian army, a British force remaining at Assuan, 200 m. to the north, as a reserve in case of emergency, and two years later even this precaution was deemed unnecessary. In October 1886 Wad en Nejumi, the amir who had defeated Hicks Pasha in Kordofan three years before, and led the assault at Khartum when General Gordon was slain in January 1885, replaced Mahommed'el Kheir as " commander of the force for the conquest of Egypt," and brought large reinforcements to Dongola. An advanced column under Nur-el-Kanzi occupied Sarras in April 1887, was attacked by the Egyptian force under Colonel H. Chermside on the 28th of that month, and after a stubborn resistance was defeated with great loss. Nur-el-Kanzi was killed and ten standards taken. The troubles in Darfur and with Abyssinia (q.v.) induced the khalifa to reduce the garrisons of the north; nevertheless, the dervishes reoccupied Sarras, continued active in raids and skir- mishes, and destroyed the railway south of Sarras, which during the Nile expedition of 1884 and 1885 had been carried as far as Akasha. It was not until May 1889 that an invasion of the frontier on a large scale was attempted. At this time the power and prestige of the khalifa were at their height: the rebellions in Darfur and Kordofan had been stamped out, the anti-mandi was dead, and even the dervish defeat by the Abyssinians had been converted by the death of King John and the capture of his body into a success. It was therefore an opportune time to try to sweep the Turks and the British into the sea. On the 22nd of June Nejumi was at Sarras with over 6000 fighting men and 8000 followers. On the 2nd of July Colonel J. Wodehouse headed off a part of this force from the river at Argin, and, after a sharp action, completely defeated it, killing 900, among whom were many important amirs, and taking 500 prisoners and 12 banners, with very small loss to his own troops. A British brigade was on its way up stream, but the sirdar, who had already arrived to take the command in person, decided not to wait for it. The Egyptian troops, with a squadron of the loth Hussars, concentrated at Toski, and thence, on the 3rd of August, Battle of Toskl General Grenfell, with slight loss, gained a decisive . victory. Wad en Nejumi, most of his amirs, and more than 1200 Arabs were killed; 4000 prisoners and 147 standards were taken, and the dervish army practically destroyed. No further serious attempts were made to disturb the frontier, of which the most southerly outpost was at once advanced to Sarras. The escape from Omdurman of Father Ohrwalder and of two of the captive nuns in December 1891, of Father Rossignoli in October 1894, and of Slatin Bey in February 1895, revealed the condition of the Sudan to the outside world, threw a vivid lighton the rule of the khalif a, and corroborated information already received of the discontent which existed among the tribes with the oppression and despotism under which they lived. The Eastern Sudan.—In 1884 Colonel Chermside, governor of the Red Sea littoral, entered into arrangements with King John of Abyssinia for the relief of the beleaguered Egyptian garrisons. Gera, Amadib, Senhit and Gallabat were, in con-sequence, duly succoured, and their garrisons and Egyptian populations brought away to the coast by the Abyssinians in 1885. Unfortunately famine compelled the garrison of Kassala to capitulate on the 3oth of July of that year, and Osman Digna hurried there from Tamai to raise a force with which to meet the Abyssinian general, Ras Alula, who was preparing for its relief. By the end of August Osman Digna had occupied Kufit, in the Barea country, with 10,000 men and entrenched himself. On the 23rd of September Ras Alula attacked him there with an equal number of men and routed him with great slaughter. Over 3000 dervishes with their principal amirs, except Osman Digna, lay dead on the field, and many more were killed in the pursuit. The Abyssinians lost 40 officers and 1500 men killed, besides many more wounded. Instead of marching on to Kassala, Ras Alula, who at this time was much offended by the transfer of Massawa by the Egyptians to Italy, made a triumphant entry into Asmara, and absolutely refused to make any further efforts to extricate Egyptian garrisons from the grip of the khalifa. Meanwhile Osman Digna, who had fled from Kufit to Kassala, wreaked his vengeance upon the unhappy captives at Kassala. In the neighbourhood of Suakin there were many tribes disaffected to the khalifa's cause, and in the autumn of 1886 Colonel H. Kitchener, who was at the time governor of the Red Sea littoral, judiciously arranged a combination of them to overthrow Osman Digna, with the result that his stronghold at Tamai was captured on the 7th of October, 200 of his men killed, and 50 prisoners, 17 guns and a vast store of rifles and ammunition captured. For about a year there was comparative quiet. Then at the end of 1887 Osman Digna again advanced towards Suakin, but his force at Taroi was routed by the " Friendlies," and he fell back on Handub. Kitchener Handub. unsuccessfully endeavoured to capture Osman Digna on the 17th of January 1888, but in the attack was himself severely wounded, and was shortly after invalided. Later in the year Osman Digna collected a large force and besieged Suakin. In December the sirdar arrived with reinforcements from Cairo, and on the loth sallied out and attacked the dervishes in their trenches at Gemaiza, clearing the whole line and inflicting considerable loss on the enemy, who retired towards Handub, and the country was again fairly quiet for a time. During 1889 and 1890 Tokar became the centre of dervish authority, while Handub continued to be occupied for the khalifa. In January 1891 Osman Digna showed signs of increased activity, and Colonel (afterwards Sir Charles) Holled Smith, then governor of the Red Sea littoral, attacked Handub successfully on the 27th and occupied it, then seized Trinkitat and Teb, and on the 19th of February fought the decisive action of Afafit, occupied Tokar, and drove Osman Digna back to Temrin with a loss of 700 men, including all his chief amirs. This action proved the final blow AfafltB°ttfe of . to the dervish power in the neighbourhood of Suakin, for although raiding continued on a small scale, the tribes were growing tired of the khalif a's rule and refused to support Osman Digna. In the spring of 1891 an agreement was made between England and Italy by which the Italian forces in Eritrea were at liberty, if they were able, to capture and occupy Kassala, which lay close to the western boundary of their new colony, on condition that they restored it to Egypt at a future day when required to do so. Three years passed before they availed themselves of this agreement. In 1893 the dervishes, 12,000 strong, under Ahmed All, invaded Eritrea, and were met on the 29th of December at Agordat by Colonel Arimondi with 2000 men of a native force. Ahmed Ali's force was completely routed and himself killed, and in the following July Colonel Baratieri, with 2500 men, made a fine forced march from Agordat, surprised and captured
End of Article: MILITARY OPERATIONS IN EGYPT AND THE SUDAN
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Additional information and Comments

Correction: Mandism should be Mahdism And the name of the leader is Mahdi (isntead of mandi as is your text). In Islamic eschatology the Mahdi (مهدي transliteration: Mahdī, also Mehdi; "Guided One") is the prophesied redeemer of Islam (see Wikipedia ). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad_Ahmad Thanks Azim El-Hassan
A newly-published and indispensable related reference work is Harold E. Raugh, Jr.'s British Military Operations in Egypt and the Sudan, 1882-1899: A Selected Bibliography (Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2008). It is available from the publisher's website, Amazon.com, or Barnes & Noble.
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