The Camels, Mules, And Horses Of The Transport -
Their Heads Supported With Inflated Water-Skins Tied Under Their Jowls -
Were Made To Swim Across The River By The Local Shukrieh Arabs.
the skill of these tribesmen that only one camel and one mule were drowned
during the operation.
The passage was completed on the 16th, and the next
day the advance was resumed along the west bank of the Atbara. At midday
on the 18th Mugatta was reached, and at dawn on the 20th the little force
- having filled their water-skins, tightened their belts, and invoked the
assistance of the various gods they worshipped - started off, and marched
all day in single file through the thick bush which lies between the Atbara
and Gedaref. The column retired to rest peacefully during the night of the
21st, although within twelve miles of Gedaref. But at midnight startling
news arrived. A deserter from the Dervishes made his way into the camp and
informed Colonel Parsons that the Emir Saadalla awaited him with 3,500 men
two miles before the town. The situation was grave. A retreat through the
broken country and thick bush in the face of a powerful and triumphant
enemy seemed impossible. There was no alternative but to attack.
Very early on the morning of the 22nd - the same day on which General Hunter
on the Blue Nile was compelling Musa Digna and his followers to surrender -
Colonel Parsons and the Kassala column set forth to march into Gedaref and
to fight whatever force it might contain.
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