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Ten Years' Captivity in the Mahdi's Camp 1882-1892

Abu Anga advanced into Abyssinian territory


troops advanced in divisions along the banks of the Nile, and before finally taking leave of them the Khalifa addressed Abu Anga and his emirs, urging them to be ever united, and to keep always before them the rewards which would be theirs on their return, promising them the divine help of the Mahdi and a certainty of victory.

This speech was delivered in such an impressive manner that there were few dry eyes amongst these hardy warriors, and the Khalifa himself was by no means ignorant of the gravity of the step he had now taken, for Abyssinia was looked upon as even a more powerful country than Egypt. Abu Anga followed his troops in a steamer as far as Abu Haraz, near which the Khor Rahad joins the Nile, and which during the winter is quite full and navigable almost up to Galabat.

Some time before, Abdullah Wad Ibrahim and Ismail Wad el Andok had been sent to collect people in the Gezireh; they now joined Abu Anga, whose entire force numbered 81,000 men. After a short halt at Galabat, Abu Anga advanced into Abyssinian territory, leaving Wad Ali in Galabat. Making forced marches, the troops made their way over hills and across valleys, through the most rugged country. Numbers died of exhaustion, but still they continued to move on; they met with no opposition, the villages through which they passed were deserted, and wherever they went they found provisions in abundance. This magnificent country was a source

of intense astonishment to the Dervishes.

Meanwhile Ras Adal had collected his forces in the great plain of Dabra Sin, some six days' journey from Galabat, and here he patiently awaited Abu Anga's advance. As the Dervishes approached, numbers of the Gezireh troops who could not keep up with the force lagged behind, and were invariably killed or mutilated by the Abyssinians.

Abu Anga, on arrival on the plain, formed up in battle-array, and putting himself in the centre of a square composed of his best troops, he advanced on the Abyssinian camp, which was much extended, and stretched as far as the eye could reach.

The Abyssinians now attacked in wild disorder; they fought with the courage of lions, for their religion and fatherland, against the hated Moslems who had dared to enter their country. The horsemen especially fought with the most reckless bravery; but Abu Anga's blacks here as elsewhere showed their sterling fighting qualities; they mowed down the masses of Abyssinians in thousands with their well-aimed fire, whilst the latter were vainly endeavouring to break through their solid ranks; and soon Abu Anga's victory was assured. He had conquered through his good discipline, the arrangement of his troops, and the galling fire of the Remingtons, and now the rest of the fight was merely a massacre, which was continued until the troops were quite tired out. Most of Ras Adal's principal chiefs had fallen, and amongst the captives was one of his sons, who was well cared for and sent to Galabat.

The entire camp, with its countless tents, donkeys, and mules, fell into the hands of the Mahdiists. The captured animals were in such quantities that the victors could not possibly carry them off, and in consequence they either hamstrung them or cut their throats. Amongst the other things captured were two guns.

The road to Gondar, the former capital of Abyssinia, was now clear, and Abu Anga advanced towards it, hoping that he would secure great quantities of treasure. It was a march of only thirty miles from the battlefield, and was soon reached; sacked, plundered, and reduced to ashes; the churches were pillaged and then burnt; priests were thrown down from the roof and killed; the population massacred, and women and children dragged in hundreds into slavery.

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