Fire & Sword Turn 03: January 1884

After Turn 02: December 1883 the Anglo-Egyptians luck runs out – the revolt has spread into Western Sudan; Darfur & Kordofan are aflame with Mahdist support and Dara immediately falls to the rapidly growing Dervish Army in Darfur. Even worse El Fasher falls immediately after with the loss of it’s garrison. In Kordofan the expedition heading for El Obeid (2nd Company, XIIth Sudanese Battalion; and 1st Section, B Egyptian Artillery Battery) somehow survive the sudden onslaught, and are not perhaps fully aware of their precarious position.

Sudanese Infantry...

Sudanese Infantry…

However the good news is El Obeid does not get taken by surprise, which would have been a major coup for the Dervishes – thanks to the weak numbers of Dervish followers in Kordofan no doubt – and as El Obeid has 4 turns of Supplies on hand things are not critical immediately. Furthermore, El Obeid’s resistance (luckily) gives the XIIth Sudanese expedition above a safe haven to make for.

In the North Sir Henry sets forth – continuing South towards Akasha – he does not need to detach any troops to garrison the town as Egyptian Gendarmes arrive to police Wadi Halfa, and he hears via telegraph that his reinforcements are also enroute from Aswan and will be there in about 3 weeks or so… Further South at Abu Hamed, with morale boosted by the arrival of reinforcements and a large amount of supplies, Colonel Ilyas Sayed Bey elects to march forth and sally out of the town with the bulk of his force, supported by Talahawiyeh. While supplies are not critical he realises the importance of inflicting a local defeat on the Dervishes and preventing their rebellion becoming well established…


Meanwhile in the East Akhtar Pasha continues his march West to Berber & Atbara – Eastern Sudan has remained calm, despite large numbers of Beja and other Fuzzy Wuzzies being involved in the revolt – how long can it last? Meanwhile in the South of the region the 4th Company, 1st Egyptians sets forth from Kassala on the Eritrean border to cautiously advance North down the Atbara – having had no communications or riverboats reach them for almost 3 months the Company Commander elects to investigate, leaving just a few local Gendarmes and Arab levies to police & garrison Kassala. In the South Maizoub Pasha concentrates on fortifying Khartoum, and attempting to raise units of militia from the various Merchants, Arabs, Bashi-Bazouks, and Nobles sheltering in the town, and in the small port work continues feverishly on completing getting the large improvised gunboat Safieh ready while Bordein is repaired. Out in the wilds of Darfur & Kordofan the XIIth Sudanese expedition continues it’s wary trek East to El Obeid.

The month begins with Sir Henry marching rapidly on Akasha, however as he passes the Nile’s 2nd Cataract the force comes upon a defended Dervish village – a reasonable sized force of Mahdists have fortified the village and Sir Henry realises he cannot risk leaving it in his rear – he promptly orders the force to prepare for an attack. Fire & Sword Battle 03: The Battle of Baqah al-Garbiyyah Oasis. At Abu Hamed Sayed Bey leads his force forth, finding himself facing the besieging horde of Dervishes, and beyond their fortified camp a couple of miles from the town! Fire & Sword Battle 04: Sally at Abu Hamed.

Meanwhile Akhtar continues peacefully West, and the 4th/1st Egyptians start their journey North. In Khartoum Maizoub Pasha successfully begins recruiting his militia forces – 4 Bashi-Bazouk & 2 Arab Levy figs! This is helped by the steady stream of refugees flooding in from the West, where the weak rebellion is allowing most to evade the Mahdists. Both Gunboats in Khartoum are also ready by late in the month for concerted action. Out in the West the XIIth have a surprisingly quiet march, only glimpsing small bands of supposed Dervishes in the distance, and they safely reach the W1 well on the El Obeid track.

3rd Company, 1st Egyptian Rifles

3rd Company, 1st Egyptian Rifles

Sir Henry’s column finishes the month with surprisingly good progress, a last gasp burst of momentum getting his column to Suarda on the last day of the month. By the end of the month the reinforcements at Aswan have rapidly moved up to follow Sir Henry into the Sudan, the Cavalry & the Naval Brigade Machine-Gun Detachment (the latter via the first new transport steamer to arrive) are at Akasha, not far behind Sit Henry’s column,  while the 2nd Company, Yorkshire Regiment is at Wadi Halfa. Akhtar’s march see’s him reach Hadiga, while further South the 4th Company, 1st Egyptian Rifles has reached the E1 steamer station on their route North down the Atbara, and on the coast the 2nd Company, 1st Egyptian Rifles has reached Suakin from Trinkitat.

At Abu Hamed the assault has seen 5 months worth of supplies and food secured (bringing it up to 11 months of stocks on hand as of 1st February), and with Commander Khatib Gadelrab Bey of the Egyptian Artillery now commander of the Garrison (replacing the slain Sayed Bey) the challenge is now military – can he continue to go on the offensive? Finally no fresh reinforcements are forthcoming in January from Britain or the Egyptian government.

As the turn concludes, the Revolt Index was decreased by 2 in Northern Sudan (due to the two Anglo-Egyptian victories), and elsewhere it was reduced by 1 in each of the other 3 provinces (again due to the dual victories in Northern Sudan). The Mahdist Forces meanwhile accumulated another 40 VPs giving them 101 to date towards their target of 400.

Dervishes approach

The first Dervishes approach…

Battles: Fire & Sword Battle 03: The Battle of Baqah al-Garbiyyah Oasis; Fire & Sword Battle 04: Sally at Abu Hamed

Continue Reading with Fire & Sword Turn 04: February 1884.

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