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Home | Ancient History Sourcebook | Medieval Sourcebook | Modern History Sourcebook | Byzantine Studies Page Other History Sourcebooks: African | East Asian | Global | Indian | Islamic | Jewish | Lesbian and Gay | Science | Women's [Tappan Introduction] In I882 there arose in the Soudan, a province of Upper Egypt, one Mohammed Ahmed, who called himself the Mahdi or Messiah, and invited all true believers to join in a holy war against the Christians.

It was stated by Sir Evelyn Baring (English consul-general to Egypt) that there were fifteen thousand persons in Khartoum who ought to be brought back to Egypt---Europeans, civil servants, widows and orphans, and a garrison of one thousand men, one third of whom were disaffected.

To get these people out of Khartoum was General Gordon's first duty, and the first condition of evacuation was the establishment of a stable government in the Soudan.

They seemed to Gordon mere rag-tag and bob-tail, but he dared not go out to meet them, for fear of the town. Berber followed, and then for months no word whatever reached this country from Khartoum. Power's telegram, dated July 31, was received by the "Times." From that we gathered a tolerably clear notion of the way in which the war went on.

Five hundred brave men could have cleared out the lot, but he had not a hundred. On April 19, Gordon telegraphed that he had provisions for five months, and if he only had two thousand to three thousand Turkish troops he could soon settle the rebels. Anything more utterly absurd than the accusation that Gordon forced fighting on the Mahdi cannot be conceived.

"I am the Mahdi," replied Mahomet Ahmet, by emissaries who were "exceedingly cheeky," keeping their hands upon their swords, and laying a filthy, patched dervish's coat before him. " Gordon flung the bundle across the room, canceled the Mahdi's sultanship, and the war was renewed.

From that day to the day of the betrayal no day passed without bullets dropping into Khartoum.

A sixteen-pounder Krupp was mounted on a barge, and wire was stretched across the front of the stockade.

The houses on the northern bank of the Blue Nile were fortified and garrisoned by Bashi-Bazouks.

The Egyptians, betrayed by their officers, broke and fled after firing a single volley, and were pursued to within a mile of the stockade, abandoning two mountain guns with their ammunition---"sixty horsemen defeated two thousand men"---and leaving two hundred of their number on the field.

After this affair he was convinced that he could not take the offensive, but must remain quiet at Khartoum, and wait till the Nile rose.

Twelve hundred men rere put on board two grain-barges, towed by three steamers defended with boiler plates, and carrying mountain-guns protected by wooden mantlets; and, with the loss of only two killed, they succeeded in extricating the five hundred men left of the garrison of Halfaya, and capturing seventy camels and eighteen horses, with which they returned to Khartoum.

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