The Forts, Which Mounted
Nearly Fifty Guns, Replied Vigorously; But The British Aim Was Accurate
And Their Fire Crushing.
The embrasures were smashed to bits and many of
the Dervish guns dismounted.
The rifle trenches which flanked the forts
were swept by the Maxim guns. The heavier projectiles, striking the mud
walls of the works and houses, dashed the red dust high into the air and
scattered destruction around. Despite the tenacity and courage of the
Dervish gunners, they were driven from their defences and took refuge
among the streets of the city. The great wall of Omdurman was breached
in many places, and a large number of unfortunate non-combatants
were killed and wounded.
Meanwhile the Arab irregulars, under Major Wortley, had been sharply
engaged. That officer's orders were to co-operate with the flotilla by
taking in rear the forts and fortified villages on the east bank of the
river. As soon as the gunboats had silenced the lower forts, Major Wortley
ordered the irregulars to advance on them and on the houses. He placed the
Jaalin, who were practically the only trustworthy men in his force,
in reserve, and formed the tribes according to their capabilities and
prejudices. On the order to attack being given, the whole force, some 3,000
strong, advanced on the buildings, from which the Dervishes at once
opened fire. Arrived within 500 yards they halted, and began to discharge
their rifles in the air; they also indulged in frantic dances expressive of
their fury and valour, but declined to advance any further.
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