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MILITARY OPERATIONS OF

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Originally appearing in Volume V09, Page 123 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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MILITARY OPERATIONS OF 1882-1885 In February 1879 a slight outbreak of discharged officers and soldiers occurred at Cairo, which led to the despatch of British and French ships to Alexandria. On the 26th of June of that year Ismail Pasha was removed from Egypt, and Tewfik assumed the khediviate, becoming practically the protege of the two western powers. On the 1st of February 1881 a more serious disturbance arose at Cairo from the attempt to try three colonels, Ahmed Arabi, All Fehmy, and Abd-el-Al, who had been arrested as the ringleaders of the military party. The prisoners were re-leased by force, and proceeded to dictate terms to the khedive. Again British and French warships were despatched to Alexandria, and were quickly withdrawn, their presence having produced no apparent impression. It soon became clear that the khedive was powerless, and that the military party, headed by Arabi, threatened to dominate the country. The " dual note," communicated to the khedive on the 6th of January 1881, contained an intimation that Great Britain and France were pre-pared to afford material support if necessary; but the fall of Gambetta's ministry produced a reaction, and both governments proceeded to minimize the meaning of their language. The khedive was practically compelled to form a government in which Arabi was minister of war and Mahmud Sami premier, and Arabi took steps to extend his influence throughout his army. The situation now became critically serious: for the third time ships were sent to Alexandria, and on the 25th of May 1882 the consuls-general of the two powers made a strong representation to Mahmud Sami which produced the resignation of the Egyptian ministry, and a demand, to which the khedive yielded, by the military party for the reinstatement of Arabi. The attitude of the troops in Alexandria now became threatening; and on the 29th the British residents pointed out that they were " absolutely 'defenceless." This warning was amply justified by the massacres of the 11th of June, during which more than one hundred persons, including an officer and two seamen, were killed in the streets of Bombard- Alexandria, almost under the guns of the ships in ment of harbour. It was becoming clear that definite action A/exan- would have to be taken, and on the 15th the channel d a. squadron was ordered to Malta. By the end of June twenty-six warships, representing the navies of Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Russia, the United States, Spain, Greece and Turkey, lay off the port of Alexandria, and large numbers of refugees were embarked. The order received by Admiral Sir Beauchamp Seymour (afterwards Lord Alcester) on the 3rd of July was as follows: Prevent any attempt to bar channel into port. If work is resumed on earthworks, or fresh guns mounted, inform military commander that you have orders to prevent it; and if not immediately discontinued, destroy earthworks and silence batteries if they open fire, having given sufficient notice to population, shipping and foreign men-of-war." On the 9th the admiral received a report that working parties had been seen in Fort Silsileh " parbuckling two smooth-bore guns—apparently 32-pounders—towards their respective carriages and slides, which were facing in the direction of the harbour." Fort Silsileh was an old work at the extreme east of the defences of Alexandria, and its guns do not bear on the harbour. On the loth an ultimatum was sent to Toulba Pasha, the military commandant, intimating that the bombardment would commence at sunrise on the following morning unless " the batteries on the isthmus of Ras-el-Tin and the southern shore of the harbour of Alexandria " were previously surrendered " for the purpose of disarming." The fleet prepared for action, and the bearer of the reply, signed by the president of the council, and offering to dismount three guns in the batteries named, only succeeded in finding the flagship late at night. This proposal was rejected, and at 7 A.M. on the I1th of July the " Alexandra " opened fire and the action became general. The attacking force was disposed in three groups: (I) the "Alexandra," " Sultan " and " Superb," outside the reef, to engage the Ras-el-Tin and the earthworks under weigh; (2) the " Monarch," " Invincible " and " Penelope," inside the harbour, to engage the Meks batteries; and (3) the "Inflexible " and " Temeraire," to take up assigned stations outside the reef and to co-operate,with the inshore squadron. The gunboats " Beacon," " Bittern," " Condor," " Cygnet " and " Decoy " were to keep out of fire at first and seek opportunities of engaging the Meks batteries. Meks fort was silenced by about 12.45 P.M., and a party from the " Invincible " landed and disabled the guns. As the fire delivered under weigh was not effective, the offshore squadron anchored at about 10.30 A.M., and succeeded in silencing Fort Ras-el-Tin at about 12.30 P.M., and Fort Adda, by the explosion of the main magazine, at 1.35 P.M. The " In-flexible " weighed soon after 8 A.M. and engaged Ras-el-Tin, afterwards attacking Forts Pharos and Adda. The " Condor," followed by the " Beacon," " Bittern " and " Decoy," engaged Fort Marabout soon after 8 A.M. till II A.M., when the gunboats were recalled. After the works were silenced, the ships moved in closer, with a view to dismount the Egyptian guns. The bombardment ceased at 5 P.M.; but a few rounds were fired by the " Inflexible " and " Temeraire " on the morning of the 12th at the right battery in Ras-el-Tin lines. The bombardment of the forts of Alexandria is interesting as a gauge of the effect to be expected from the fire of ships under specially favourable conditions. The Egyptians at different times during the day brought into action about 33 R.M.L. guns (7-in. to Io-in.), 3 R.B.L. guns (40 prs.), and 120 S.B. guns (6.5-in. and Io-in.), with a few mortars. These guns were disposed over a coast-line of about to sea miles, and were in many cases indifferently mounted. The Egyptian gunners had been little trained, and many of them had never once practised with rifled ordnance. Of seventy-five hits on the hulls of the ships only five can with certainty be ascribed to projectiles from rifled guns, and thirty were unquestionably due to the old smoothbores, which were not provided with sights. The total loss inflicted was 6 killed and 27 wounded. The British ships engaged fired 1741 heavy projectiles (7-in_ to 16-in.) and 1457 light (7-prs. to 64-prs.), together with 33,493 machine-gun and rifle bullets. The result was comparatively small. About 8 rifled guns and 19 smoothbores were dismounted or disabled and 4 and I temporarily put out of action respectively. A considerable portion of this injury was inflicted, after the works had been silenced, by the deliberate fire of the ships. As many as twenty-eight rifled guns and 14o smoothbores would have opened fire on the following day. The Egyptians made quite as good a stand as could be expected, but were driven from their guns, which they were unable to use with adequate effect; and the bombardment of Alexandria confirms previous experience that the fire of ships cannot really compete with that of well-mounted and well-handled guns on shore. In the afternoon of the 12th, fires, which were the work of incendiaries, began to break out in the best quarters of Alexandria; and the town was left to murder and pillage till the following day, when a party of bluejackets and marines was landed at about 3 P.M. Military intervention being now imperatively demanded, a vote of credit for 2,300,000 was passed in the British House of Commons on the 27th of July. Five days later the French government failed to secure a similar vote, and Great Britain was left to deal with the Egyptian question alone. An expeditionary force detailed from home stations and from Malta was organized in two divisions, with a cavalry division, corps troops, and a siege train, numbering in all about 25,000 men. An Indian contingent numbering about 7000 combatants, complete in all arms and with its own transport, was prepared for despatch to Suez. General Sir Garnet Wolseley was appointed commander-in- chief, with Lieutenant - General Sir J. Adye as chief of the staff. The plan of operations contemplated the seizure of Ismailia as the base for an advance on Cairo, Alexandria and its suburbs to be held defensively, and the Egyptian forces in the neighbour- hood to be occupied by demonstrations. The expeditionary force having rendezvoused at Alexandria, means were taken by Rear-Admiral Hoskins and Sir W. Hewett for the seizure 'of the Suez canal. Under orders from the former, Captain Fairfax, R.N., occupied Port Said on the night of 19th August, and Commander Edwards, R.N., proceeded down the canal, taking possession of the gares and dredgers, while Captain Fitzroy, R.N., occupied Ismailia after slight opposition. Before nightfall on the loth of August the canal was wholly in British hands. Meanwhile, leaving Sir E. Hamley in command at Alexandria, Sir G. Wolseley with the bulk of the expeditionary force arrived at Port Said on the loth of August, a naval demonstration having been made at Abukir with a view to deceive the enemy as to the object of the great movement in progress. The advance from Ismailia now began. On the 21st Major-General Graham moved from Ismailia with about 800 men and a small naval force, occupying Nefiche, the junction with the Suez line, at 1.30 A.M. without opposition. On the 22nd he made a recon- naissance towards Suez, and on the 23rd another to El-Magfar, 4 M. from Nefiche. It now appeared that the enemy had dammed the sweet-water canal and blocked the railway at Tell-el-Mahuta, where entrenchments had been thrown up and resistance seemed to be contemplated. At 4 A.M. on the 24th Sir Garnet Wolseley advanced with 3 squadrons of cavalry, 2 guns, and about i000 infantry, placed under the orders of Lieutenant-General Willis. The enemy showed in force, estimated at 7000 with 12 guns, and a somewhat desultory action ensued. Reinforcements from Ismailia were ordered up, and the British cavalry, operating on the right, helped to check the enemy's attack, which showed little vigour. At night the troops, now reinforced by the Guards Brigade, an infantry battalion, 2 cavalry regiments and to guns, bivouacked on the ground. Early on the morning of the 25th the advance was continued to Tell-el-Mahuta, which the enemy evacuated, while the mounted troops and horse artillery pressed on to Mahsama, capturing the Egyptian camp, with 7 guns and large quantities of ammunition and supplies. On the same evening Major-General Graham, with about 1200 marines (artillery and light infantry), reached Mahsama, and on the following day he occupied Kassassin without opposition. The advance guard had now outrun its communications and was actually short of food, while a considerable force was distributed at intervals along the line Ismailia-Kassassin. The situatioh on the 27th tempted attack by an enterprising enemy, and Major-General Graham's force, consisting of a squadron of the 19th Hussars, the York and Lancaster Regiment, the duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, the Marine Artillery Battalion and two R.H.A. guns, short of ammunition, was in danger of being overwhelmed by vastly superior numbers from Tell-el-Kebir. On the 28th Major-General Graham's troops were attacked, and after repulsing the enemy, made a general advance about 6.45 P.M. The cavalry, summoned by heliograph from Mahsama, co-operated, and in a moonlight charge inflicted considerable loss. The British casualties amounted to 14 killed and 83 wounded. During the lull which followed the first action of Kassassin, strenuous efforts were made to bring up supplies and troops and to open up railway communication to the front. On the 9th of September the Egyptians again attacked Kassassin, but were completely repulsed by g A.M., with a loss of 4 guns, and were pursued to within extreme range of the guns of Tell-el- Kebir. The British casualties were 3 killed and 78 wounded. The three following days were occupied in concentrating troops at Kassassin for the attack on Tell-el-Kebir, held by about 38,000 men with 6o guns. The Egyptian defences consisted of a long line of trench (21 m.) approximately at right Teu-ei• angles to the railway and the sweet-water canal. At Kebir. 11 P.M. on the 12th of September the advance of about 15,000 men commenced; the 1st division, under Lieutenant-General Willis, was on the right, and the 2nd division, under Lieutenant-General Hamley, was on the left. Seven batteries of artillery, under Brigadier-General Goodenough, were placed in the centre. The cavalry, under Major-General Drury Lowe, was on the right flank, and the Indian contingent, under Major-General Macpherson, starting one hour later, was ordered to move south of the sweet-water canal. The night was moonless, and the distance to be covered about 64 m: The ground was perfectly open, slightly undulating, and generally firm gravel. The conditions for a night march were thus ideal; but during the movement the wings closed towards each other, causing great risk of an outbreak of firing. The line was, however, rectified, and after a halt the final advance began. By a fortunate accident the isolated outwork was just missed in the darkness by the left flank of the 2nd Division; otherwise a premature alarm would have been given, which must have changed all the conditions of the operation. At dawn the Highland Brigade of the 2nd Division struck the enemy's trenches, and carried them after a brief struggle. The 1st Division attacked a few minutes later, and the cavalry swept round the left of the line of entrenchments, cutting down any fugitives who attempted resistance and reaching the enemy's camp in rear. The Indian contingent, on the south of the canal, co-operated, intercepting the Egyptians at the canal bridge. The opposition encountered at some points was severe, but by 6 A.M. all resistance was at an end. The British loss amounted to 58 killed, 379 wounded and 22 missing; nearly 2000 Egyptians were killed, and more than 500 wounded were treated in hospital. An immediate pursuit was ordered, and the Indian contingent, under Major-General Macpherson, reached Zagazig, while the cavalry, under Major-General Drury Lowe, occupied Belbeis and pushed on to Cairo, 65 m. from Tell-el-Kebir, next day. On the evening of the 14th the io,000 troops occupying Abbasia barracks, and 5000 in the citadel of Cairo, surrendered. On the 15th General Sir Garnet Wolseley, with the brigade of Guards under H.R.H. the duke of Connaught, entered the city. The prompt following up of the victory at Tell-el-Kebir saved Cairo from the fate of Alexandria and brought the rebellion to an end. The Egyptian troops at Kafr Dauar, Abukir and Rosetta surrendered without opposition, and those at Damietta followed on the 23rd of September, after being threatened with attack. On the 25th the khedive entered Cairo, where a review of the British troops was held on the 3oth. The expeditionary force was now broken up, leaving about io,000 men, under Major-General Sir A. Alison, to maintain the authority of the khedive. In twenty-five days, from the landing at Ismailia to the occupation of Cairo, the rebellion was completely suppressed, and the operations were thus signally successful. The authority of the khedive and the maintenance of law and order now depended absolutely on the British forces left in occupation. Lord Dufferin, who had been sent to The Sudan Cairo to draw up a project of constitutional reforms, question. advocated the re-establishment of a native army, not to exceed 5000 to 6000 men, with a proportion of British officers, for purely defence purposes within the Delta; and on the 13th of December 1882 Sir Evelyn Wood left England to undertake the organization of this force, with the title of sirdar. Lord Dufferin further advised the formation of a gendarmerie, which " should be in a great measure a mounted force and empowered with a semi-military character " (despatch of January 1st, 1883). The strength of this military police force was fixed at 4400 men with 2562 horses, and Baker Pasha (General Valentine Baker) was entrusted with its formation, with the title of inspector-general. In a despatch of the 6th of February 1883 Lord Dufferin dealt British expedition under Sir Garnet Wolseley. with the Sudan, and stated that Egypt " could hardly be expected to acquiesce " in a policy of withdrawal from her Southern territories. At the same time he pointed out that, "Unhappily, Egyptian administration in the Sudan had been almost uniformly unfortunate. The success of the present mandi in raising the tribes and extending his influence over great tracts of country was a sufficient proof of the government's inability either to reconcile the inhabitants to its rule or to maintain order. The consequences had been most disastrous. Within the last year and a half the Egyptians had lost something like 9000 men, while it was estimated that 40,000 of their opponents had perished." Moreover, to restore tranquillity in the Sudan, " the first step necessary was the construction of a railway from Suakin to Berber, or what, perhaps, would be more advisable, to Shendi, on the Nile. The completion of this enterprise would at once change all the elements of the problem." The immense responsibilities involved were most imperfectly understood by the British government. Egyptian sovereignty in the Sudan dates from 1820, when Mehemet Ali sent a large force into the country, and ultimately established his authority over Sennar and Kordofan. In 1865 Suakin and Massawa were assigned to Egyptian rule by the sultan, and in 187o Sir Samuel Baker proceeded up the Nile to the conquest of the Equatorial provinces, of which General Gordon was appointed governor-general in 1874. In the same year Darfur and Harrar were annexed, and in 1877 Gordon became governor-general of the Sudan, where, with the valuable assistance of Gessi Pasha, he laboured to destroy the slave trade and to establish just government. In August 1879 he returned to Cairo, and was succeeded by Raouf Pasha. Misrule and oppression in every form now again prevailed throughout the Sudan, while the slave traders, exasperated by Gordon's stern measures, were ready to revolt. The authority of Egypt was represented by scattered garrisons of armed men, badly officered, undisciplined and largely demoralized. In such conditions a leader only was required to ensure widespread and dangerous rebellion. A leader appeared in the person of Mahommed Ahmed, born in 1848, who had taken up his abode on Abba Island, and, acquiring great reputation for sanctity, had actively fomented insurrection. In August 1881 a small force sent by Raouf Pasha to arrest Mahommed Ahmed was destroyed, and the latter, proclaiming himself the mandi, stood forth as the champion of revolt. Thus, at the time when the Egyptian army was broken up at Tell-el-Kebir, the Sudan was already in flames. On the 7th of June 1882, 6000 men under Yusef Pasha, advancing from Fashoda, were nearly annihilated by the mandists. Payara and Birket in Kordofan quickly fell, and a few days before the battle of Tell-el-Kebir was fought, the mandi, with a large force, was besieging El Obeid. That town was captured, after an obstinate defence, on the 17th of January 1883, by which time almost the whole of the Sudan south of Khartum was in open rebellion, except the Bahr-el-Ghazal and the Equatorial provinces, where for a time Lupton Bey and Emin Pasha were able to hold their own. Abd-el-Kader, who had succeeded Raouf, telegraphed to Cairo for 10,000 additional troops, and pointed out that if they were not sent at once four times this number would be required to re-establish the authority of the government in the Sudan. After gaining some small successes, Abd-el-Kader was superseded by Suliman Niagi on the loth of February 1883, and on the 26th of March Ala-eddin Pasha was appointed governor-general. Meanwhile 500o men, who had served in the Egyptian army, were collected and forcibly despatched to Khartum via Suakin. In March 1883 Colonel William Hicks, late of the Bombay army, master to who in January had been appointed by the khedive p8 ha. chief of the staff of the army of the Sudan, found himself at Khartum with nine European officers and about 10,000 troops of little military value. The reconquest of the Sudan having been determined upon, although Sir E. Malet reported that the Egyptian government could not supply the necessary funds, and that there was great risk of failure, Colonel Hicks, who had resigned his post on the 23rd of July, and had been appointed commander-in-chief, started from Khartum on 9th September, with a total force of about 10,000 men, includingnon-combatants, for Kordofan. On the 22nd of May Sir E. Malet had informed Sherif Pasha that, " although Colonel Hicks finds it convenient to communicate with Lord Dufferin or with me, it must not be supposed that we endorse in any way the contents of his telegrams. . . Her Majesty's government are in no way responsible for his operations in the Sudan, which have been undertaken under the authority of His Highness's government." Colonel Hicks was fully aware of the unfitness of his rabble forces for the contemplated task, and on the 5th of August he telegraphed: " I am convinced it would be best to keep the two rivers and province of Sennar, and wait for Kordofan to settle itself." Early in November the force from Khartum was caught by the mandists short of water at Kashgil, near El Obeid, and was almost totally destroyed, Colonel Hicks, with all his European officers, perishing. Sinister rumours having reached Cairo, Sir E. Baring (Lord Cromer), who had succeeded Sir E. Malet, telegraphed that " if Colonel Hicks's army is destroyed, the Egyptian government will lose the whole of the Sudan, unless some assistance from the outside is given," and advised the withdrawal to some post on the Nile. On the following day Lord Granville replied: " We cannot lend English or Indian troops; if consulted, recommend abandonment of the Sudan within certain limits "; and on the 25th he added that " Her Majesty's government can do nothing in the matter which would throw upon them the responsibilities for operations in the Sudan." In a despatch of the 3rd of December Sir E. Baring forcibly argued against British intervention in the affairs of the Sudan, and on the 13th of December Lord Granville telegraphed that " Her Majesty's government recommend the ministers of khedive to come to an early decision to abandon all territory south of Assuan, or, at least, of Wadi Halfa." On the 4th of January 1884 Sir E. Baring was directed to insist upon the policy of evacuation, and on the 18th General Gordon left London to assist in its execution. The year 1883 brought a great accession of power to the mandi, who had captured about 20,000 rifles, 19 guns and large stores of ammunition. On the Red Sea littoral Osman Digna, a slave dealer of Suakin, appointed amir of the Defeat of Eastern Sudan, raised the local tribes and invested Banker. Sinkat and Tokar. On the 16th of October and the 4th of November Egyptian reinforcements intended for the former place were destroyed, and on the 2nd of December a force of 700 men was annihilated near Tamanieb. On the 23rd of December General Valentine Baker, followed by about 2500 men, gendarmerie, blacks, Sudanese and Turks, with To British officers, arrived at Suakin to prepare for the relief of Sinkat and Tokar. The khedive appears to have been aware of the risks to be incurred, and in a private letter he informed the general that " I rely upon your prudence and ability not to engage the enemy except under the most favourable circumstances." The tragedy of Kashgil was repeated on the 4th of February 1884, when General Baker's heterogeneous force, on the march from Trinkitat to Tokar, was routed at El Teb by an inferior body of tribesmen. Of 3715 men, 2375, with 11 European officers, were killed. Suakin was now in danger, and on the 6th of February British bluejackets and marines were landed for the defence of the town. Two expeditions in the Sudan led by British officers having thus ended in disaster, and General Gordon with Lieutenant-Colonel J. D. Stewart having reached Khartum on Bash the 18th of February, the policy of British non-inter- expedition vention in regard to Sudan affairs could no longer be uirnder maintained. Public opinion in England was strongl ss Y tlratram: impressed by the fact that the Egyptian garrisons of battles of Tokar and Sinkat were perishing within striking dis- El Teb and tance of the Red Sea littoral. A British force about 4400 Tamanleb, strong, with 22 guns, made up of troops from Egypt and from units detained on passage from India, was rapidly concentrated at Suakin and placed under the orders of Major-General Sir G. Graham, with Major-Generals Sir R. Buller and J. Davis as brigadiers. News of the fall of Sinkat, where the starving garrison, under Tewfik Bey, made a gallant sortie and was cut
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