Four Feathers, The - Preface

Four Feathers, The (Illustration) Biographies Fiction Geography History Victorian Age Nineteenth Century Life Ancient Places and/or Civilizations Famous Historical Events Film Social Studies World History

In the last major battle involving a cavalry charge, Britain's 21st Lancers decimated Sudanese forces who wanted to end colonial rule in their country.  This drawing, illustrating the battle's ferocity, is by Harry Payne.  It was included in Glourious Battles of English History, by Major C.H. Wylly, published in 1915. Image online, courtesy MilitaryImages.net.


Our victory was disgraced
by the inhuman
of the wounded...

Winston Spencer Churchill 
Letter to his mother 
January 26, 1899 

It was 1898—a time when "the sun never set" on the British Empire. Presided over by Queen Victoria, who was approaching the end of her long reign, the far-flung empire (noted in red in the link) covered 11 million square miles and included about 400 million people.

Trouble between Egypt (then a British Protectorate) and the Sudan was about to erupt into an unbelievably brutal battle. Fighting under the hot desert sun, Anglo-Egyptian forces, led by Lord Horatio Herbert Kitchener, would face angry Sudanese eager to rid their country of colonial rule. It would be the last time the British army fought a battle on horseback.

The scene was Omdurman, across the Nile River from Khartoum. (Look for the intersection of 30 degrees longitude and approximately 25 degrees latitude in this 1890 map.) It was not the first time the Sudanese had engaged Anglo-Egyptian forces in a horrifying battle. Winston Churchill, a 24-year-old war correspondent, rode with the 21st Lancers.

Despite death all around him, the future Prime Minister of Great Britain survived—forever changed because of the brutality he had witnessed.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Apr 01, 2005

Updated Last Revision: Jul 18, 2019

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