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August 16 , 2007

Too Late For Gordon And Khartoum;

The Testimony Of An Independent Eye-Witness Of The Heroic Efforts For Their Rescue And Relief [Illustrated Edition]


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Sudan was afire with flame and revolt in 1883 as the Islamic revolution headed by the self-proclaimed Mahdi gained followers and captured districts. The British government not wanting to be involved in the costly suppression of the rebellion ordered Egypt to abandon its administration of the Sudan in December 1883. The British government asked General Gordon, former Governor-General of Sudan, to go to Khartoum and aid in the evacuation of Egyptian soldiers, civilian employees and their families. Britain withdrew its troops from the Sudan until Khartoum was the last outpost remaining under British control.

Gordon differed with the British government’s decision to abandon the Sudan. He thought that the Islamic revolt had to be crushed for fear that it might eventually overwhelm Egypt. He based this on the Mahdi’s claim of dominion over all Islamic lands. Defying orders from the British government to withdraw, General Gordon, leading a garrison of 6,000 men, began the defence of Khartoum. On March 18, 1884, the Mahdist army laid siege to the city. The rebels stopped river traffic and cut the telegraph line to Cairo. Khartoum was cut off from resupply, which led to food shortages, but could still communicate with the outside world by using messengers. Under pressure from the public, in August 1884, the British government decided to reverse its policy and send a relief force to Khartoum. So the scene was set for the story of the epic, brave, but ultimately futile attempt to relieve Khartoum here related by the War Correspondent Alexander Macdonald who accompanied the British column.
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