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his leading Emirs were killed. The Egyptian loss was 10 killed, including one English officer, and 48 wounded. Whatever remained of the Dervish force fled in confusion towards Kassala. The defeat of the Dervishes was hailed with genuine satisfaction by the population. The number of persons found at Tokar who had been subjected to mutilation of the most cruel description, bore ample testimony to the barbarity of Dervish rule.
The Tokar expedition was, therefore, a complete success. It accomplished for the Eastern Soudan what Toski did for the valley of the Nile. It cleared the country of Dervishes, and enabled the work of the civilian reformer to commence.1
To sum up—the three important military events, which took place, during the years immediately following the evacuation of the Soudan in 1885, were, first, the defeat of the Dervishes before Suakin on December 20, 1888; this relieved the pressure on Suakin, but did not produce any further result of importance. Secondly, the defeat of Nejumi's force at Toski on August 3, 1889; this broke the aggressive power of the Dervishes and tranquillised the Nile valley. Thirdly, the defeat of Osman Digna near Tokar on February 19, 1891 ; this permitted an Egyptian reoccupation of the province of Tokar, and tranquillised the greater part of the Eastern Soudan. After many years of painful transition, therefore, Egypt, reduced to manageable dimensions, at last acquired a settled frontier, which the Egyptian Government were able to defend with the military and financial resources at their disposal.
If a regenerated Egypt is now springing up, its 1 On February 13, Lord Salisbury wrote to me: “Up to the time when I write all seems to have gone well with the Tokar expedition ; very little notice is taken of it here.
We are thinking of nothing except strikes, and of the later cantos of the epic of Kitty O'Shea."
existence is in a great measure due to the fact that, through good and evil report, the policy of withdrawing from the Soudan and adhering to a strictly defensive attitude on the Egyptian frontier was steadily maintained for some years.
THE RECONQUEST OF KHARTOUM
OCTOBER 1895-SEPTEMBER 1898
Necessity of reconquering the Soudan-Danger of premature action
The Italian defeat at Adua-It is decided to advance on Dongola -Provision of funds—Sir Herbert Kitchener-Indian expedition to Suakin-Railway construction-Battle of Firket-Capture of Dongola—The Egyptian Government repay the money advanced by the Commissioners of the Debt- The British Government advance £800,000—Question of a further offensive movementCapture of Abu Hamed and Berber-Reoccupation of KassalaBritish troops sent to the Soudan—The battle of the Atbara—The battle of Omdurman-Cost of the campaign-The War Office—The policy of reconquest.
The Soudan had been left derelict, not so much because the cargo was valueless, but rather because no hands were available to effect the salvage. It was, however, certain from the first that the reconquest of some, at all events, of the lost provinces would, sooner or later, have to be undertaken. To those who were well acquainted with all the circumstances, it might, indeed, be clear that England was not responsible for the loss of the Soudan, but the broad fact, which had sunk into the minds of the
British public, was this—that during a period when British influence was paramount in Egypt, certain provinces, which had before been open to trade, and which might have been subjected to the influences of civilisation, had been allowed to relapse into barbarism. The national honour was touched. It was thought that the British
Government, even if not originally responsible for the loss of the provinces, would become responsible if no endeavour were made to effect their reconquest. A sense of shame was very generally felt that, under British auspices, Egyptian territory should have undergone such severe shrinkage. The popular sentiment on the subject found expression in the feeling that “Gordon should be avenged.”
It was from the first obvious that the partial reconquest of the Soudan was not_beyond the military and financial resources of England, but little inclination was for some while shown, either by successive Governments or by public opinion, to employ those resources in order to attain the object in view. The problem, which apparently had to be faced, was how the Egyptian Government, with but little or no British help, could reassert their authority in the Soudan. It was a necessary condition to the solution of this problem that it should not entail any increase to the fiscal burdens of the Egyptian people, and that it should not involve any serious risk that the affairs of Egypt proper, which were beginning to settle down, should relapse into disorder.
During the years which immediately followed the retreat of the troops after the abortive Gordon expedition, the main danger, against which it was necessary to guard, was to prevent the British and Egyptian Governments from being driven into premature action by the small but influential section of public opinion which persistently and strenuously advocated the cause of immediate reconquest. During all this period, therefore, I was careful in all my published reports to lay special stress on the desirability of inaction. Indeed, my personal opinion was that the period of enforced inaction would last longer than was actually the
If, about the year 1886, I had been asked how long a time would probably elapse before it would be possible for the Egyptian Government to abandon a defensive and to assume an offensive policy in the valley of the Nile, I should have conjecturally fixed the period at about twenty-five years.
As a matter of fact, the Egyptian army reoccupied Dongola and Berber about twelve years, and Khartoum thirteen years after their abandonment. The main reason why my forecast proved erroneous was that the conditions of the problem were changed. The Egyptian Government were not left to deal single-handed with the military and financial situation. Valuable assistance, both in men and money, was afforded by England.
Before any thought of reconquest could be entertained, two conditions had to be fulfilled. In the first place, the Egyptian army had to be rendered efficient. In the second place, not only had the solvency of the Egyptian Treasury to be assured, but funds had to be provided for the extraordinary expenditure which the assumption of an offensive policy would certainly involve.
The engagements which took place in 1888-89 in the neighbourhood of Suakin and in the Nile valley, showed that some confidence could be placed in the Egyptian army.
Financial rehabilitation and material progress in every direction proceeded at a far more rapid pace than had been anticipated. By 1895, the reconquest of the Soudan had begun to be generally discussed as an undertaking, which would probably be capable of realisation at no very remote period.
In October 1895, the question was raised in the following form. For some while previous, a scheme for holding up the water of the Nile in a large reservoir had been under consideration. By the autumn of 1895, the discussions on the