A Period When A Neutral Point Was Obtained And The Mahdist Power
But the invasion of the Eastern Soudan by the British troops
in the spring and the necessary advance of the relieving columns in the
winter of 1884 revived the patriotic element.
The tribes who had made
a great effort to free themselves from foreign domination saw in the
operations of Sir Gerald Graham and Lord Wolseley an attempt to bring
them again under the yoke. The impulse which was given to the Mahdi's
cause was sufficient to raise a fierce opposition to the invading forces.
The delay in the despatch of the relief expedition had sealed the fate
of Khartoum, and the fall of the town established the supremacy of
the military spirit on which the Dervish Empire was afterwards founded.
All the warlike operations of Mohammedan peoples are characterised
by fanaticism, but with this general reservation it may be said - that the
Arabs who destroyed Yusef, who assaulted El Obeid, who annihilated Hicks
fought in the glory of religious zeal; that the Arabs who opposed Graham,
Earle, and Stewart fought in defence of the soil; and that the Arabs who
were conquered by Kitchener fought in the pride of an army. Fanatics
charged at Shekan; patriots at Abu Klea; warriors at Omdurman.
In order to describe conveniently the changing character of the revolt,
I have anticipated the story and must revert to a period when the social
and racial influences were already weakening and the military spirit
was not yet grown strong.
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