The River War - An Account Of The Reconquest Of The Sudan By Winston S. Churchill


The news of the Dervish defeats at Abu Klea and Abu Kru impelled the Mahdi
to a desperate venture. The - Page 90
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The News Of The Dervish Defeats At Abu Klea And Abu Kru Impelled The Mahdi To A Desperate Venture.

The English were but 120 miles away.

They were few, but victorious. It was difficult to say what force could stop such men. In spite of the wrath of the true God and the valour of Islam they might prevail. The Mahdi depended on success for existence. The tremendous forces of fanaticism are exerted only in a forward direction. Retreat meant ruin. All must be staked on an immediate assault. And, besides, the moment was ripe. Thus the Arab chiefs reasoned, and wisely resolved to be reckless. Thus the night of the 25th of January arrived.

The band played as usual in the evening. Gradually the shadows fell and it became dark. The hungry inhabitants betook themselves to bed. The anxious but indomitable commander knew that the crisis impended, and knew also that he was powerless to avert it. Perhaps he slept, satisfied that he had done his duty; and in the silence of the night the savage enemy crawled stealthily towards the town. The weary and disheartened sentinels, weakened by famine and tired of war, maintained a doubtful vigilance along the ramparts. The subsiding waters of the river had left a bare gap between the White Nile and the wall. Perhaps there was treachery besides. On a sudden the loud explosion of musketry broke the stillness of the night and the slumbers of the people; and with a continual shouting thousands of Dervishes swarmed through the unprotected space and entered Khartoum.

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