Four Feathers, The - REVENGE: ROUND ONE

Major General Horatio Herbert Kitchener (later Lord Kitchener, leading a huge force of Anglo-Egyptian soldiers, would face the committed followers of the Mahdi during September of 1898. In the first volume of his work on Churchill, The Last Lion: Visions of Glory, William Manchester describes the scene of battle (at Omdurman, the Sudan) as Churchill saw it:

Unlike twentieth-century warfare, nearly everything at Omdurman was visible, if distorted, to the naked eye. As Churchill wrote, "the whole scene lay revealed in minute detail, curiously twisted, blurred, and interspersed with phantom waters by the mirage." (Visions of Glory, 1983 hardcover edition, page 276.)

Ahmed’s successor, the Khalifa, had a black flag as he led his men in the attack. Manchester continues:

It quickly became apparent that the Khalifa had now committed every man he had, including his reserves, hoping to overwhelm the infidels. His sacred black flag floated above the bright banners of lesser emirs and the white standards bearing Mohammed’s most stirring passages in Arabic script. Shrieking as they ran, these troops dipped beneath a swell of ground which briefly concealed the main bodies of the rival armies from one another and then swept up, over, and down into the arena where the invaders of their soil stood shoulder to shoulder, braced to receive them. (Visions of Glory, page 273.)

But 7,000 dervishes had already fallen. The defenders of Omdurman were faced with at least seventy big guns aimed at them from the bank of the Nile and from gunboats. Four batteries of howitzers added to the confusion.

Kitchener, taking advantage of the faltering Mahdists, prepared to cut off the enemy, forcing them into the desert. But numbers still favored the Mahdists. Fifty-three thousand of them attacked again. Twenty thousand fell in the attack. Vultures and flies, attacking the dead and wounded, added to the torture of the searing desert heat.

Using the Twenty-first Lancers to drive the enemy away from the city of Omdurman, Kitchener used reflected sunlight to flash an order with his heliograph:

Advance - clear the left flank - use every effort to prevent the enemy entering Omdurman.

The last cavalry attack of the British army was about to begin.

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

Original Release: Sep 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Feb 27, 2015

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"REVENGE: ROUND ONE" AwesomeStories.com. Sep 01, 2002. Sep 18, 2018.
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