Siege of Khartoum, (March 13, 1884-Jan. 26, 1885), the Mahdi's siege of Khartoum, capital of the Sudan, which was defended by an Egyptian garrison under the British general Charles George ("Chinese") Gordon. The Mahdi's capture of the city and the slaughter of its defenders, including Gordon, caused a storm of public protest against the alleged inaction of the British government under Lord Salisbury.
The British government had become the prime European support of the khedive of Egypt but sought to remain aloof from the affairs of the Egyptian-ruled Sudan, especially after the Mahdi's tribesmen rose in revolt beginning in 1881. In early 1884, following a series of Mahdist victories, the British only reluctantly acquiesced in the khedive's selection of Gordon as governor-general of the Sudan. Gordon reached the capital of Khartoum on Feb. 18, 1884, and had succeeded in evacuating 2,000 women, children, and sick and wounded before the Mahdi's forces closed in on the town.
From that time, the British government's refusal of all of Gordon's requests for aid, together with Gordon's own obdurate refusal to retreat or evacuate further, made disaster virtually inevitable. The Siege of Khartoum commenced on March 13, but not until August, under the increasing pressure of British public opinion and Queen Victoria's urgings, did the government at last agree to send a relief force under General Garnet Joseph Wolseley, setting out from Wadi Halfa (October 1884). After learning of two victories won by Wolseley's advancing forces, the Mahdi's troops were on the verge of raising the siege; but the further unaccountable delay of the relief force encouraged them to make a final, successful assault at a gap in the ramparts caused by the falling of the Nile's waters. The city's garrison was butchered, Gordon with it. The forerunners of the relief force, consisting of river gunboats under Lord Charles Beresford, arrived off the city on January 28, two days too late, and, after a brief gun duel with the Mahdist defenders, retreated downriver.
Soon after, the Mahdi abandoned Khartoum and made Omdurman his capital.
On 17 January 1885, a British force marching cross-country to the relief of General Gordon at Khartoum was attacked by the Mahdists, who were repulsed. On the 19th, when the British force was nearer Metemma, the Mahdists renewed the attack, again unsuccessfully. The opposing forces consisted of the 1,700 British of the Desert Column under Sir Herbert Stewart, against a Dervish force of 12,000. While the main British force (the River Column), led by General Sir Garnet Wolseley travelled by river from Korti to Khartoum, Stewart's column was to cut across country by column directly for Khartoum, since time was running short according to what little information was available from the garrison. The force was composed of four regiments of camel-mounted troops (Guard, Heavy, Light & Mounted Infantry), formed from detachments of the various regiments in Egypt and the River Column, and a detachment of the 19th Hussars, mounted on horses. Four light field pieces and a small Naval Brigade manning a Gardner machine gun finished off the force.
As the column approached the wells at Abu Klea, they were set upon by a Mahdist force. The troops were formed in square, with the cannon on the north face and the Naval Brigade, with their Gardner, at a corner. Several officers and men of HMS Alexandra were killed at the battle. The Gardner gun, was run out to the left flank of the infantry square to provide covering fire. The square closed behind them leaving them exposed. After seventy rounds were fired, the gun jammed and as the crew tried to clear it they were cut down in a rush by the dervishes. Out of the forty men in the Naval contingent, Lieutenants Alfred Piggott and Rudolph de Lisle were killed along with Chief Boatswain's Mate Rhodes and five other seamen and seven more were wounded. Lord Charles Beresford was 'scratched' on the left hand by a spear as he managed to duck under the gun. The weight of the rush pushed the sailors back into the face of the square. Several Dervishes were able to gain access to the square, but found the interior full of camels and were unable to proceed. The troops in the rear ranks faced about and opened fire into the press of men and camels behind them, and were able to drive the Dervishes out of the square and compelling them to retreat from the field.
The battle was remarkably short, lasting barely fifteen minutes from start to finish. Casualties for the British were nine officers and 65 other ranks killed and over a hundred wounded. The Mahdists lost 1,100 dead during the quarter hour of fighting, made all the worse by the fact that only around half of the Dervish force was actually engaged. British national hero Colonel F. G. Burnaby of the Royal Horse Guards was killed by a spear to the throat. Another action happened the next morning and the advance rescue force leader Sir Herbert Stewart was Wounded in the groin thus leaving command to the inexperienced leader Sir Charles Wilson (the column's intelligence officer) who was slower in organizing his forces.
Aftermath The column was too late to save Khartoum; it was taken by the Mahdists just a few days later leading to the death of General Charles Gordon. The Dervishes of Mahdi ruled the Sudan for the next thirteen years at the British defeat as the British pulled out of the area. The official public blame of the failed rescue was left with Prime Minister Gladstone for delaying several months for authorizing a rescue. Prime Minister Gladstone lost the public confidence and much authority within two months of the failed rescue.
Last Edit: Jun 17, 2006 11:14:29 GMT -5 by Bromhead24
Post by Bromhead24 on Jun 11, 2006 15:40:42 GMT -5
The British heavy camel regiment's square at the battle of Abu Klea (still from the movie The Four feathers). In the real square, there where over 1700 troops consisting of British army, Navy, a 150 man detachment of the 19th Hussars, mounted on horses. Four light field pieces and Sudanese troops.
Last Edit: Jun 12, 2006 18:27:13 GMT -5 by Bromhead24
Post by Bromhead24 on Jul 16, 2006 10:05:31 GMT -5
Sir Herbert Stewart, commander of the desert column for the relief of Gordon. He served with distinction as a staff officer in the Zulu, Transvaal and Egyptian wars and commanded the cavalry brigade at El Teb and Tamai. He is pictured here in the undress uniform of the 3rd Dragoon Guards.
The film "The Four Feathers" rendition of Col Stewart. (who was NOT killed at the battle of ABU Klea)
Colonel Fred Burnaby, Royal Horse Guards (The Blues), who joined the relief Expedition in an unofficial capacity and WAS killed at Abu Klea. Celebrated as an athlete, marksman and horseman, and for the book about his travels in central Asia (The Ride to Khiva). Wounded at El Teb when attached to Graham's Intelligence Department. Painting dated 1870 by J.G. Tissot.
Post by Bromhead24 on Jul 20, 2006 19:14:57 GMT -5
What is your opinion of Charleton Heston's portrayal of Gordon in the film, KHARTOUM, Bromhead?
It's been a long time since i've seen the film but from what i can remember, it was fairly accurate..I thought i saw it at Walley World a few weeks ago. I think i will get it this weekend if it's still there.
I know that the films very brief battle of Abu Klea was way better than "The Four Feathers"
Heston's (Gordon) death scene is very close to George Joy's painting "The death of General Gordon"
Some accounts claim that Gordon was in a white uniform.
Battle flag of the Mahdi's forces. The Arabic inscription reads: "Oh Allah! Oh Merciful! Oh Compassionate! Oh Living! Oh Unchanging! Oh Lord of Majesty and Liberality! There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is the Prophet of Allah. Mohammed the Mahdi is the Successor of the Prophet of Allah. Upon him be Blessings and Peace of Allah!.
Gordon, Major-General Charles George. The Journals of Major-General C.G. Gordon, C.B., at Kartoum
December 3 - This morning Arabs fired eight rounds at us, and we replied; one of our shells struck their casemate. Numbers of Arabs left Mahdi's camp for the north. Arabs fired nine rounds into the town at night from the south lines. One shell fell into the garden of the Palace; this from the south lines. A shell from Arabs at Goba fell in the garden, so it will be seen the attention which is being paid to the Palace.
Twenty shells fell in town yesterday, but none did any harm.
I think this is the programme, and though it is of doubtful morality, perhaps it is the shortest route out of a mess. "British Expedition comes up to relieve British subjects in distress, nothing else; it finds one of its subjects acting as ruler; it takes him away, and he, on going away, appoints Zubair ruler, subject to approval of Towfik, Zubair having been allowed to come up to Kartoum, as a private individual, to look after his family."
Now who can say anything to the British Government? It has had nothing to do with the appointment of Zubair, or with the Government of Towfik; it came up to relieve its subjects, and "Gordon is entirely responsible for the appointment of Zubair;" "even Towfik is not responsible, for Gordon did it on his own responsibility." This will be a splendid dodge; it first clears Her Majesty's Government of any blame, it puts the blame on me, and in the storm that is caused, I shall have been so effectually blackened that every one will forget the - well! we did not say it in direct words (count the months), we will call the DELAY; in fact, I expect the public will rather blame the Government for having sent any Expedition at all for such a style of British subject; the Government will chuckle over it all, and will preserve the fiction that they have nought to do with the Soudan or Egypt.
The Opposition will be perfectly wild at seeing the Ministry get out of the mess, with what one may call really credit, while the Anti-Slavery Society and Europe at large will empty their vials of wrath on me. Towfik and his pashas will wring their hands openly over such an act. . . . will get such kudos! For my part I shall get out of any of those wretched honours, for the Ministry will be only too glad to say, "We could not, you know, confer any honours on him after such very disreputable conduct," knowing well enough I would not take them if offered; and as I am not going to England again, and shall not see the papers, I shall not much mind the abuse. I think it is a splendid programme. Zubair must be given either #200,000 or #300,000 a year for two years, replenished magazines, and stores of all sorts, all the Expedition's boats and steamers, &c., and must be aided for two months in small expeditions; besides the #200,000 or #300,000 for two years, he must have down on the nail #150,000 to #200,000.
I must clear, in disgrace, out of the country, to prevent any appearance of any connivance on the part of ... in this arrangement, which he will or ought officially to deplore. I do not think Zubair will care for the Equator Province; he will agree to give that up; he will agree to uphold the Treaty of 1877 Slave Convention, and laugh as he does so. As for the Bahr Gazelle, I expect the Mahdi has it, and if so, his people will move up there, when Zubair by his politics recaptures Obeyed.
What a fearful row there will be. I know one man who will write: "Better, my dear Gordon, far better! to have died, than have so very far departed from the right path; nothing, no nothing can explain it away. A happy Christmas to you." . . . "This news from the Soudan is very satisfactory; I call it a great triumph, for it not only delivers us out of a dilemma, but it effectually settles our friends, and vitiates anything he may say as to the Delay." Any military operations undertaken after the proclamation of Zubair will be put down "as measures necessary to be undertaken to secure the return, unmolested, of the expeditionary force." 5 P.M. Artillery duel going on between our two guns and the Arab gun; our practice is very bad. The shells the Arabs fire from their Krupp gun reach the Palace Garden, but the report of their gun is not to be heard. The Arab shells from Goba fall just about 200 yards short of the Palace; but in its line there is just the second of suspense (after seeing them fire), while one hears the soft sighing of their shells coming nearer and nearer, till they strike. 7 P.M. Another battle! (the third to-day). The Arabs came down to the river and fired on the Palace; we could not stand that. 7.10 P.M. Battle over; we are as we were, minus some cartridges. 7.20 P.M. Battle begun again, because the buglers played "Salaam Effendina," the Arabs wasting ammunition. 8 P.M. The Arabs are firing from the south at the Krupps on the Palace; they (i.e. the Arabs) are at least 4000 yards distant; one hears the shells burst, but not the report of their gun; they reached the river close to the Palace.
December 4 - Omdurman Fort all right. They had a man wounded yesterday. There was a small battle at Bourré this morning. The Arabs at Goba are quiet after the exertions of yesterday. Firing was heard (on north) towards Shoboloha last night. Report in town says the steamers are near there.
Should the Zubair arrangement be accepted, then comes the question of the military action during two months, at end of which time the expeditionary force should be wending its way back. The driving away of the Arabs from the Dem at the north of the Palace will be immediate on the arrival of the troops; the Arabs will then hold on to El foun and to Giraffe. They will vacate the vicinity of Omdurman Fort; 1000 men will deal with El foun and Giraffe, supported by our tag-rag. First Giraffe, then El foun; but at the same time as this takes place, the retreat of Arabs ought to be cut off at Gitana from Kordofan by the steamers and another 1000 men; the Mahdi will return to Schatt, and the town will be free, and all the troops defending the lines will be available. Then comes the question of going inland and attacking the family of the Sheikh el Obeyed's son, two and a half hours inland, or else going on and attacking Mesalamieh. I think Sheikh el Obeyed's family will give in as soon as the Arabs are driven from El foun (an affair of an hour, D.V.). I tried to entice the Arabs at Goba into a fight this evening, but they would not be drawn, and only replied by two shells, which fell in the river. We played on them with the mitrailleuse, and made them move their gun, and then they fired two more shells, one which fell near the Palace in the river. With a good mitrailleuse, and a sharp operator, with telescope sight, no gun could be served with impunity at 2000 yards range, though it could be served against artillery fire, for at that range there is plenty of time to dodge under cover after seeing the flash ere the shell arrives. The band, principally of small boys, the men being on the lines, went on to the roof of the Palace to play (they always come on the eve of their Sabbath, the Friday). The Arabs heard them, and fired a volley at them; they, furious, threw down their instruments, and flew to arms, and a regular fusillade went on for some moments, the other places supporting the fire. The buglers are bugling now "Come to us, come to us," to the Arabs. (The Egyptian Government have the French calls, and can converse by bugle; I do not think we have.) Last night a renegade Dervish bugler in the Arab ranks replied, "Come to us, come to us."
December 5 - Small church parades. Three caravans of some size came in from the north to Mahomet Achmet's camp this morning. Two deserters came in from the Arabs. Fort at Omdurman all right. In store 737 ardebs of dhoora, 121,300 okes of biscuit.
We are going to make an attempt to relieve Omdurman Fort (really things are looking very black). The men who came in say the Mahdi is short of ammunition. The Arabs fired three shells at the palace this afternoon, which fell in the river. A soldier deserted to-day to the Arabs. 5 P.M. The Arabs fired two shells at the palace, which fell into the water (if they only knew! that if they sank the trail they would touch us up! their line is quite correct). 6.30 P.M. Since 3 P.M. we have been firing on them, and they on us, only wasting ammunition, for though our bullets reach them, few of theirs reach us. According to the men who came in from the Arabs, it is the pet detachment of the Mahdi who are opposite the Palace; they do not number more than one hundred, and are principally our Soudan soldiers. I have almost given up all idea of saving the town; it is a last resource, this attempt we make to open the route to the Omdurman Fort.
December 6 - (Certainly every fortified place ought to be provided with a hundred good telescopes.) The steamers went down and fired on the Arabs at Omdurman. We have #150 in cash in the treasury. In the affair to-day we had three killed and thirty-six wounded in the steamers, and Ferratch Ullah Bey reports he had five wounded at Omdurman Fort. The Arabs came down in good force, and must have lost.
I have given up all idea of landing at Omdurman: we have not the force to do it. The Arabs fired forty-five rounds from their guns at Mogrim and the steamers. We had two men wounded at Mogrim, and one killed. This is most distressing to have these poor fellows wounded and killed. To-morrow it will be 270 days 9 months that we have endured one continuous misery and anxiety. The Greeks who were at Mogrim say at least 300 or 400 Arabs were killed and wounded in to-day's engagement. The Ismailia was struck by four, and the Bordeen by two shells, but not in vital parts. I visited the steamers, and had weariness of heart at hearing the complaint of the men as to the robbery of their rations by the officers.
December 7 - The 270th day of our imprisonment. The Arabs fired from their guns at Boga 8 shells, one of which fell in the town near Palace, but did no harm. Omdurman reports the fort all right, one more man wounded there. A great force of Arabs strayed down near Omdurman last night, and left at dawn. The cock turkey has killed one of his companions, reason not known. (Supposed to be correspondence with Mahdi, or some harem infidelity.) Report in town that Berber surrendered, "sans coup férir." I hope so. We are going to send the steamers down again to attack the Arabs at Omdurman at noon to-morrow. The Arabs fired nine shells at Bourré, and begun again their practice on the Palace, firing five shells, one of which came close to the roof of Palace.
A soldier escaped from the Arabs and came in; he says the Expeditionary Force has captured Berber. Two soldiers deserted to the Arabs to-day! The Arabs at Goba fired three shells this evening at the Palace; two fell close to it, one fell in the water. One shell from the Arabs at Bourré fell in the hospital. One of the shells of the Arabs this evening struck the building next the Palace, and stuck in the wall, about 9 feet from the ground. A man came in from the Arabs, who says the Expeditionary Force is approaching. I saw a body of horsemen going north to-day, very fast, from El foun. In the Ismailia were eighty bullet holes on the water line of her hull; in the Bordeen there were seventy-five bullet holes, ditto in the last engagement!!! These holes were stopped by screws made for the purpose. As for the bullet marks elsewhere they are not to be counted.
My belief is that the Mahdi business will be the end of slavery in the Soudan. The Arabs have invariably put their slaves in the front and armed them; and the slaves have seen that they were plucky, while their masters shirked: is it likely that those slaves will ever yield obedience to those masters as heretofore?
December 8 - The Arabs this morning fired twelve rounds from guns at Bourré, and five rounds at the North Fort and Palace. Two men came in from the Arabs; they say no Arabs have gone down towards Berber; that the report in the Arab camp was that Berber was captured; this report was four days old. 10 A.M. The steamers are going down to attack. Omdurman Fort reports "All right." 10.30 A.M. The steamers are engaged; the Arabs have two nasty wasp batteries with regular embrasures, quite á l'Europe. (Query Slatin Bey's design.) Though we have protected the steam-chests of the steamers, one cannot help being very anxious. The Arabs at Goba are silent. Another soldier from the Arabs came in and states report of advance of the Expeditionary Force, who are coming by land. Every time I hear the guns fire I have a twitch of the heart of gnawing anxiety for my penny steamers. 11.30 A.M. The battle is over, and my penny boats are safe, thank God! (not in words only, but from my heart). We had two wounded on board the Bordeen, none on board the Ismailia. We are meditating an attack with 500 men on the 50 Arabs, who with their gun, are at Goba. The Bordeen was struck by four shells, the Ismailia by two shells, one of which destroyed a cabin: they had not much musketry fire, but the Arabs fired a great number of rounds; they had six guns playing on the steamers. At noon Arabs fired five shells at Bourré. In the evening they fired three shells against the Palace from Goba which fell in the town. Had we not cased the steam-chest of the Ismailia with wood she would have had her boiler blown up by one of the shells. The Arab rifle force of Goba is completely innocuous; we do not even hear their bullets, yet our bullets reach them, for they cannot stay in the open, and we can see the dust the bullets throw up that we fire. Wadji Barra, an Ameer of the Mahdi, on the north side, sent me a letter (in Appendix AB) asking me to surrender, and saying it is all lies about the Expedition, the Mahdi is evidently (like H.M.G.) offended with my curt answer to his last, and so his holiness will not write direct. Whenever we have what we call a victory we fire some fireworks at the main posts of our lines, which infuriates the Arabs, and puzzle them as to the reason. They were very angry to-night, and came down in a good number, and fired on the Palace several volleys. I ordered up the three buglers, who put them to flight. The letter Wadji Barra sent me was sent by a woman who came to the North Fort. I telegraphed the officer "Open the letter and tell me contents." He did so, and I answered, "Send the woman back to the Ameer and tell him to go, &c." I expect this irritated the Ameer, who ordered the advance of his men, and consequent expenditure of his ammunition.
December 9 - A party of sixty men, with ammunition, camels, and some horsemen, left the Dem of the Mahdi, and went north this morning. The Arabs on the right bank of the White Nile came over to the left bank of the Blue Nile, and went through some antics, so we suppose something is up. A man was wounded yesterday at Omdurman, which fort reports all right. Letter sent by Wadji Barra in Appendix AB. The Arabs fired yesterday not rifled shell, but round shell, which they must have got at Obeyed, which shows they are out of ammunition of the regulation sort. What called forth the letter from Wadji Barra (Appendix AB) was a paper I issued (Appendix CD) to the town, when I received Towfik's telegram saying he would hold the Soudan, and which I gave to a man to send to the Arabs. If Lord Palmerston was alive (or Forster was Premier) he would never leave the Soudan, without proclaiming the emancipation of the slaves. On 18th December, 1862, Lincoln proclaimed abolition of slavery in the United States; this would be a good day to issue such a proclamation in the Soudan. Wadji Barra's letter calls me Pasha of Kartoum, and says I have been deaf to all their entreaties. Stewart left this place three months ago! to-day. A man was wounded by the Arab fire at Bourré: they fired twelve rounds from these guns at the fort. I feel sure that the cause of the Mahdi's coming here is, that he got hold of Herbin's 'French Consul's' journal, written in a hostile critical spirit, and thinking it true, he advanced from Schatt. I expect Hansall, the Austrian Consul, also wrote in the style of Lamentations, for he also sent down a journal by the Abbas. It is remarkable that the very effort which I made to obtain the ear of Europe should have thus recoiled on us. I have for the present abandoned the attack on the Arabs at Goba, as Omdurman is more important, and as I expect the Arabs there have taken away their gun; it has not (up to 2 P.M.) fired to-day. I would like to ask the Mahdi - allowing pro formá that he is the Mahdi - what will be his ultimate work? Certainly his present work is not exhilarating, firing on his fellow-creatures night and day. The siege of Sevastopol lasted 326 days. We are at our 271st day. In their case they had always their communication open, and they dealt with an enemy who would recognise the rights of war; whereas we are not so placed. They, the Russians, were united, and had no civil population to deal with; yet I cannot say I think we are over great heroes (the fact is, that, if one analyses human glory, it is composed of nine-tenths twaddle, perhaps ninety-nine hundredths twaddle). We are only short of the duration of siege of Sevastopol 57 days, and we have had no respite, like the Russians had, during the winter of 1854-55; and neither Nicholas nor Alexander speculated on (well, we will not say what, but we will put it) "counting the months." Of course it will be looked on as very absurd to compare the two blockades, that of Sevastopol and Kartoum; but if properly weighted, one was just as good as the other. The Russians had money, we had none; they had skilled officers, we had none; they had no civil population, we had forty thousand; they had their route open and had news, we had neither.
December 10 - A slave came in to-day, he had been with Slatin. He says Slatin is still in chains, that there are two insurrections in Kordofan, and rumour is rife that the Expeditionary force is near. Fort Omdurman is all right. The slave says the Arabs have not much ammunition. The Arabs fired thirty-one rounds at Bourré to-day, and wounded four men (one an officer, a Major Souleiman Effi, fatally). The Arabs have been firing stones to-day. Goba is quiet, they did not fire their gun to-day, or yesterday. I expect it has gone down to the riverbank. The slave who came in says the Mahdi's return to Kordofan is cut off by the insurrection in his rear; so we and he are like two rats in a box. (I wish he was out of the box!) I have ordered the two steamers to stay up at Bourré, towards which place the Arabs seem to be directing an unpleasant degree of attention. (Truly I am worn to a shadow with the food question; it is one continual demand.) Five men deserted to-day. The Arabs shape the stones they fire, like to the shells of their guns; they will soon spoil the rifling of their guns if they continue this.
December 11 - The Arabs fired their gun from Goba three times; one shell fell into the water before the Palace--two passed over it. I put down more mines at Bourré. I have given the whole garrison an extra month's pay in addition to the three months they had before received - I will not hesitate to give them #100,000, if I think it will keep the town.
Three soldiers came in from the Arabs who report advance of the Expedition towards Berber. The Arabs fired fourteen rounds from their guns at Bourré. The officers say that there is a European directing the Arab guns there. (I wonder if it is that Frenchman who came from Dongola, and who, I thought, might have been Renan.) Sennaar is holding out and in great force (so say the three soldiers), so is Kassala. The Dem of the Mahdi is altered in appearance. They say he has sent off the families of his adherents into the interior.
3.30 P.M. - The Arabs fired three shells at the Palace from Goba; two went into the water, one passed over the Palace. This always irritates me, for it is so personal, and from one's own soldiers too! It is not very pleasant also to feel at any moment you may have a shell in your room, for the creatures fire at all hours. The steamers fired on the Arabs at Bourré this morning, and one of the Arab shells struck one steamer, and another struck a santal which we have there to defend the flank; but neither did any harm. Two soldiers deserted to the Arabs to-day--these men are generally those who have before been with the Arabs, and had deserted to us. The Arabs fired another shell at the Palace this evening, which burst in the air.
December 12 - Small Church Parade. I sincerely hope this will be the last we shall have to witness. We have in hand 1,796,000 rounds Remingtons ammunition; 540 rounds Krupp; 6000 rounds mountain gun ammunition; #140 in specie; #18,000 in paper in treasury!! #60,000 in town in paper. 110,000 okes of biscuits; 700 ardebs of dhoora. This morning I was told a long story of report concerning the expeditionary force being at El Damer, near the Atbara river; of how Berber had surrendered, &c. On tracing it, I found it was a fib put in circulation by one of the chief Ulemas, to encourage the people.
3.30 P.M. - The Arabs fired two shells at the Palace; one burst in the air, the other fell in the water in a direct line with the window I was sitting at, distant about a hundred yards.
3.40 P.M. - They fired another shell, which fell only fifty yards short of the Palace; another burst in the air. I have sent the buglers up to stop this target practice. All these shells are in good line for the west wing, in which the Arabs know I stop. They fired seven shells in all in this affair; though the Arabs have fired over two thousand shells at us, I do not think we have lost by artillery fire more than three men.
December 13 - The steamers went up and attacked the Arabs at Bourré (certainly this day-after-day delay has a most disheartening effect on every one. To-day is the 276th day of our anxiety). The Arabs appear, by all accounts, to have suffered to-day heavily at Bourré. We had none wounded by the Arabs; but one man, by the discharge of a bad cartridge, got a cut in neck: this was owing to the same cause as nearly blew out my eyes the other day. We are going to send down the Bordeen the day after to-morrow, and with her I shall send this journal. If some effort is not made before ten days' time the town will fall. It is inexplicable, this delay. If the Expeditionary Forces have reached the river and met my steamers, one hundred men are all that we require, just to show themselves.
I send this journal, for I have little hopes of saving it if the town falls. I put in the sort of arrangement I would make with Zubair Pasha for the future government of the Soudan. Ferratch Pasha is really showing an amount of vigour I did not give him credit for. Even if the town falls under the nose of the Expeditionary Force, it will not, in my opinion, justify the abandonment of Senaar and Kassala, or of the Equatorial Province, by Her Majesty's Government. All that is absolutely necessary is, for fifty of the Expeditionary Force to get on board a steamer and come up to Halfeyeh, and thus let their presence be felt; this is not asking much, but it must happen at once; or it will (as usual) be too late. A soldier deserted to the Arabs to-day from the North Fort. The buglers on the roof, being short of stature, are put on boxes to enable them to fire over the parapet; one with the recoil of rifle was knocked right over, and caused considerable excitement. We thought he was killed, by the noise he made in his fall. The Arabs fired their Krupps continually into town from the south front, but no one takes any notice of it. The Arabs at Goba only fired one shell at the Palace to-day, which burst in the air.
December 14 - Arabs fired two shells at the Palace this morning; 546 ardebs dhoora! in store; also 83,525 okes of biscuit! 10.30 A.M. The steamers are down at Omdurman, engaging the Arabs, consequently I am on tenterhooks! 11.30 A.M. Steamers returned; the Bordeen was struck by a shell in her battery; we had only one man wounded. We are going to send down the Bordeen to-morrow with this journal. If I was in command of the two hundred men of the Expeditionary Force, which are all that are necessary for the movement, I should stop just below Halfeyeh, and attack the Arabs at that place before I came on here to Kartoum. I should then communicate with the North Fort, and act according to circumstances. Now mark this, if the Expeditionary Force, and I ask for no more than two hundred men, does not come in ten days, the town may fall; and I have done my best for the honour of our country. Good bye.