They Evinced An
Extraordinary Excitement - Firing Their Rifles Without Any Attempt To Sight
Or Aim, And Only Anxious To Pull
The trigger, re-load, and pull it again.
In vain the British officers strove to calm their impulsive soldiers.
Vain they called upon them by name, or, taking their rifles from them,
adjusted the sights themselves. The independent firing was utterly beyond
control. Soon the ammunition began to be exhausted, and the soldiers
turned round clamouring for more cartridges, which their officers doled out
to them by twos and threes in the hopes of steadying them. It was useless.
They fired them all off and clamoured for more. Meanwhile, although
suffering fearfully from the close and accurate fire of the three artillery
batteries and eight Maxim guns, and to a less extent from the random firing
of the Soudanese, the Dervishes drew nearer in thousands, and it seemed
certain that there would be an actual collision. The valiant blacks
prepared themselves with delight to meet the shock, notwithstanding the
overwhelming numbers of the enemy. Scarcely three rounds per man remained
throughout the brigade. The batteries opened a rapid fire of case-shot.
Still the Dervishes advanced, and the survivors of their first wave of
assault were scarcely 100 yards away. Behind them both green flags
pressed forward over enormous masses of armed humanity, rolling on
as they now believed to victory.
At this moment the Lincoln Regiment began to come up. As soon as the
leading company cleared the right of MacDonald's brigade, they formed line,
and opened an independent fire obliquely across the front of the Soudanese.
Groups of Dervishes in twos and threes were then within 100 yards.
The great masses were within 300 yards.
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