Tony Rye Photography

Album - Sudan

Crossing the Bayuda Desert, northern Sudan, November 2007, with camels. A trip led by Michael Asher. An account of the trek can be found at Chinese Mountain Club NY.

Khartoum Expedition, 1885 at the Jakdul Well

In 1885 the British troops were crossing the Bayuda Desert in an attempt to rescue General Gordon in Khartoum. The London Illustrated News published a sketch of the British troops resting at Jakdul Well.

Troops at Jakdul

Troops Under Attack

News Reports from Jakdul Wells in 1885

News reports indicated the state of the troops.

Dispatches from Gakdul Wells state that Gen Stewart's force reached there Monday noon from Howeiyatt Wells. This force consits of a squadran of Hussars, a heavy section of the camel corps, mounted infantry, the Sussex Regiment, and the naval brigade. The Egyptian soldiers engaged in convoying the supply of water durng the march behaved in an infamous manner. They drank the rations belonging to others, and refused to obey Col Barnaby when he ordered them to advance...
Thirty camels dropped dead on the march from Howeiyatt. The troops suffered severely. The majority of the water-skins leaked and the men yeilding to thirst exhausted their rations of water prematurely. Very few fell out of line, and the conditions of the men under the circumstances was splendid. All bore their hardships bravely, as evidenced by their singing as cherrily as their parched throats would permit. They are keenly desirous of a fight." New York Times, 17th January 1885
The sufferings of the troops in the desert march to Gakdul are described as horrible, and it is declared that these sufferings are almost entirely attibuteable to the extremely bad management of the water supply. A large number of the troops are said to have been kept in a state of semi-insanity half the time from thirst. This was owing to the waste of the water carried, and this waste was caused by the poor quality of the skins composing the water tanks and the defective way they were put tgether. Plenty of water ground was found at stated places, but it was impossible to reach it in most instances because of some such criminal negligence on the part of the commissary as that, for instance, of leaving the portable pumps behind, which was done at Korti. New York Times, 18th January 1885
Reports from Abu Klea dated on the evening of the 13th inst state that Gen. Buller announced his intention to evacuate his position near Gubat and withdraw his whole force to Abu Klea, which is a better strategic position. After rendering Gordon's two steamers useless by removing their machinery, the whole force started on the morning of the 14th inst across the desert and arrived at Abu Klea next day without firing a shot. The men are in a cheerfull frame of mind, They prefer walking to camel riding. Great anxiety is felt at the War Office as to the position of Gen. Buller's force. The Mahdi's renforcements sent to Metemuch will increase the force there to 7,500 men. The rebels have 10 long-range guns, while Gen Buller has no heavy guns at all. New York Times, Jan 1885.

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