Four Feathers, The - GORDON IS BEHEADED

Perhaps believing Muhammad Ahmed could be talked into giving up his struggle with colonial forces, General Gordon sent gifts to the Mahdi. He also offered to bestow the title of Sultan on the leader if he agreed to immediately stop the uprising.

Ahmed sent a swift response to Gordon’s overtures. Returning all gifts, the Mahdi sent his own present to Gordan: a jibbah. He demanded that Gordon, now in the Sudan, convert to Islam. The British general, a Christian, would never convert.

Although he had 7,500 well-supplied troops with him in Khartoum, Gordon realized Ahmed would follow his normal pattern: He would lay siege to Khartoum. (The story of the Mahdi, portrayed by Sir Laurence Olivier, and Gordon, portrayed by Charlton Heston, is depicted in the Oscar-nominated film Khartoum.)

The siege lasted ten months. Despite his best efforts to fortify the city and rally its people, Gordon ran out of time and supplies. Thirty thousand Mahdist troops surrounded Khartoum. They destroyed telegraph lines, leaving Gordon without meaningful contact with the outside world.

Despite an outcry from the British people to help their hero, Gladstone (then the prime minister) delayed his response. As months passed, Gordon spent part of his day on the roof of a Khartoum building, telescope in hand. He was searching for what never came during his lifetime: relief and supplies.

The granaries were empty and people were dying of starvation and exhaustion after more than 300 days of siege. During the morning hours of 26 January 1885, the Mahdi and his military force of 50,000 dervishes descended on the city. The resulting slaughter was horrifying:

  • People were butchered or enslaved

  • Girls and women were sent to harems

  • Gordon’s head was cut off.

The victorious Mahdi was furious at the fate of the British general. He wanted Gordon alive to use as a bargaining chip. Once dead, with his head paraded through the streets, Gordon would become an even greater hero now that he was ALSO a martyr.

Avenging his death was now on the agenda, although the British withdrew from Sudan on 22 March 1885.

0 Question or Comment?
click to read or comment
3 Questions 2 Ponder
click to read and respond
0 It's Awesome!
vote for your favorite

Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Sep 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: May 14, 2015

To cite this story (For MLA citation guidance see easybib or OWL ):

"GORDON IS BEHEADED" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2002. Jul 21, 2018.
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Awesome Stories Silver or Gold Membership Required
Show tooltips