Khartoum Gordon

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pages: 1,194 words: 371,889

The scramble for Africa, 1876-1912 by Thomas Pakenham

active measures, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, centre right, clean water, colonial rule, Etonian, European colonialism, God and Mammon, imperial preference, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, out of africa, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, spinning jenny, trade route, transatlantic slave trade

At the same time Wolseley was struggling up the cataracts of the Nile towards Khartoum, to save Gordon – and the nation’s honour – from defilement by the Mahdi. CHAPTER 13 Too Late? The Sudan 26 September 1884-Z6 January 1883 ‘In the name of God the merciful and compassionate … Those who believed in us as the Mahdi, and surrendered, have been delivered, and those who did not were destroyed…’ Muhammad Ahmad, the Mahdi, to Gordon Pasha of Khartoum, 22 October 1884 ‘From the top of the Serail’, wrote Gordon on 26 September 1884, jotting it down in his journal with the innocence and vulnerability of a small boy writing home to his mother, ‘one commands views all round for miles.’

Was he supposed to charm the garrisons out of the Sudan by magic, the baraka of the great pasha, whose feet the Sudanese kissed at Khartoum, crying ‘Sultan’ and ‘Father’. Gordon had strange ideas, but he did not over-estimate the power of his own magic. In those three weeks before the gates of the gaol clanged shut, he had sent increasingly desperate appeals down the line to Baring. To evacuate Khartoum and the other garrisons, both Baring and Gladstone agreed, could not mean a simple policy of ‘skidaddle’ or ‘rat’. For practical as well as moral reasons, they simply could not run away, with the devil to the hindmost. Gordon must hand over the reins to some nominated successor.

Second, the great emirs were quarrelling among themselves and seemed to have lost their appetite for battle. No one was anxious to assault Khartoum, although the place was known to be full of loot. Some disaffected sheikhs would even have liked to join Gordon, if they could have done so without abandoning their wives and families. This was the reassurance that Slatin yearned to take to Gordon. With energy and perseverance Khartoum could hold out for months. Knowing the Mahdi’s intentions, Slatin would surely be a godsend to the defence. And perhaps he also envisaged an adventurous trip down-river in one of Gordon’s steamers, to link up with the relief expedition, known to be marching south.


pages: 427 words: 124,692

Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British by Jeremy Paxman

British Empire, call centre, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, conceptual framework, Etonian, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, imperial preference, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Kibera, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, mass immigration, offshore financial centre, polynesian navigation, Scramble for Africa, transatlantic slave trade

The Pall Mall Gazette bellowed that Gordon must be dispatched to Khartoum and soon the entire herd was mooing. In no time, there were crowds in the streets chanting ‘Gordon Must Go!’ and the government caved in. But he was emphatically not being sent there to bag another colony: Gordon was to go to Khartoum, evacuate all those who wished to leave, and then report back. The Foreign Secretary himself came to Charing Cross station to see him off at the start of his journey, although Gladstone’s secretary was wise enough to spot the risks of sending someone like Gordon to a place where he would be beyond any effective control.

Characteristically, this was followed, two weeks later, by a message which said the precise opposite: ‘Khartoum is all right. Could hold out for years. CG Gordon. 29.12.84’. This was nonsense. As even the Mahdi knew from the deserters who crossed to his lines, by now almost every living thing that could be eaten – even rats – had been devoured. The waters of the Nile, which had provided a natural defence, were falling all the time. At around three in the morning of 26 January 1885 Khartoum was woken by the sound of tens of thousands of jihadists swarming into the town. It was all over very quickly and very savagely. Gordon’s contempt for his Egyptian troops had been justified, and in their emaciated state they were unable to put up much of a fight anyway.

By the turn of the millennium, there was hardly an imperial hero who had not had a few buckets of mud thrown at him. The great explorers of Africa, such as Richard Burton, were racists. Captain Scott had condemned his men to icy deaths in Antarctica by vainglorious bungling. The sexuality of the hero of Khartoum, General Gordon, was suspect. Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, was cracked. The tone of movies had changed, too. David Lean’s portrayal of a troubled egotist in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) was much less about grand imperial designs than about a romantic, misunderstood loner. The new heroes were the men and women who fought against the British brutes – the Mahatma in Gandhi (1982), the medieval Scottish rebel William Wallace in Braveheart (1995) or the modern Irish revolutionary in Michael Collins (1996).


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Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng

Ayatollah Khomeini, banking crisis, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, corporate governance, Deng Xiaoping, discovery of penicillin, Etonian, illegal immigration, imperial preference, invisible hand, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, sceptred isle, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, trade route, urban planning, Yom Kippur War

In keeping with Sudanese custom, the heads of Hicks and his leading officers were presented to the Mahdi and his followers.22 It was then decided by Gladstone’s government in London to evacuate the Egyptian garrison in Khartoum, an operation that Gordon was dispatched to oversee; he arrived on 18 February 1884. Charles Gordon is one of those historical figures of whom many people are dimly aware. This is partly because the role of Gordon was successfully played by Charlton Heston in the 1966 film Khartoum, in which Gordon meets his end on the steps of the palace at Khartoum, surrounded by spear-wielding dervishes. Despite being the subject of a Hollywood blockbuster, Gordon’s life was even more spectacular than any work of creative fiction could depict.

Belatedly, a Gordon Relief Expedition was dispatched in August 1884, under Sir Garnet Wolseley, another powerful figure of this militaristic age. In Khartoum, Gordon was having sleepless nights and was only too aware that his ability to withstand the siege was limited. The denouement came in January 1885, when, at about 3.30 a.m. on Monday the 26th, the Mahdi’s troops made a ‘determined attack’ on the south side of the town. Khartoum fell, according to Kitchener’s account (though he was not there to witness it), because the garrison were too exhausted by their sufferings to put up a proper resistance. Once the rebels had entered the town, there was a general massacre, and the exact fate of General Gordon remains unclear. He was killed, certainly, but differing accounts of his death have been related to this day.

As Lord Randolph Churchill told the House of Commons on 16 March 1884, the General was in a dangerous situation, being ‘surrounded by hostile tribes and cut off from communications with Cairo and London’.28 The siege continued, with conditions in Khartoum becoming more and more desperate. The garrison suffered from ‘want of food’, and by December ‘all the donkeys, dogs, cats, rats etc. had been eaten’.29 The slow response from the Gladstone government to the crisis in which Gordon found himself is well known. The Prime Minister was as stubborn as Gordon and seems to have taken a perverse pride in not heeding the popular demand that he immediately send a force to save Gordon.


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Heaven's Command (Pax Britannica) by Jan Morris

British Empire, Cape to Cairo, centralized clearinghouse, Corn Laws, European colonialism, Fellow of the Royal Society, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, Magellanic Cloud, mass immigration, means of production, Monroe Doctrine, Plutocrats, plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, sceptred isle, Scramble for Africa, trade route

He toyed with the idea of negotiating peace with the Mahdi, and suggested that as an agent of authority the Government should send to Khartoum a notorious former slave-trader, Zubeir Pasha, who had once been Gordon’s bitter enemy, but towards whom he had lately developed, he said, ‘a mystical feeling’. The very name of Zubeir was anathema to the English evangelicals, and Gordon’s quixotic demand for his services was the British public’s first intimation that queer things were likely to happen in Khartoum—his employment, said the Anti-Slavery Society, would be ‘a degradation for England, a scandal to Europe’. Next Gordon began to hint that perhaps after all the Sudan should be reconquered by British arms, if only to guarantee the security of Egypt.

A message from the Mahdi put paid to any hope of negotiated settlement: if Gordon surrendered he would save himself and his supporters, ‘otherwise you shall perish with them and your sins and theirs shall be on your head’. Now the tribes to the north of Khartoum, hitherto quiescent, rose in support of the Mahdi. The rebels invested Khartoum itself, and the telegraph line to Cairo was cut. Gordon’s communications with Baring were reduced to messages on scraps of paper, sent out by runner, and Khartoum became a city under siege. Now at least Gordon was explicit. When the British Government got a message through asking why he seemed to be making no attempt to leave Khartoum with the garrison, as instructed, his reply was tart. ‘You ask me to state cause and intention in staying in Khartoum knowing Government means to abandon Sudan, and in answer I say, I stay at Khartoum because Arabs have shut us up and will not let us out.’

He could still fight his way out of Khartoum, but he had never tried to do so, and gradually, as the summer of 1884 dragged by, it became dimly apparent to Mr Gladstone’s Government that Gordon was blackmailing them. He had no intention either of withdrawing the garrisons, or even escaping himself: he wanted the British to reconquer the Sudan by force of arms, and he was staking his own person as hostage. If the British public baulked at Zubeir, despised the Egyptians, was not very interested in the future of the Sudan and had little idea where Khartoum was, it would certainly not be prepared to let ‘Chinese’ Gordon, the perfect Christian gentleman, die abandoned and friendless in the heart of Africa.


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Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World by Niall Ferguson

British Empire, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, Corn Laws, European colonialism, imperial preference, income per capita, John Harrison: Longitude, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, land tenure, liberal capitalism, Livingstone, I presume, Mahatma Gandhi, mass immigration, night-watchman state, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, profit motive, Scramble for Africa, spice trade, The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his morning tea in bed, the various products of the whole earth, the new new thing, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, undersea cable, union organizing, zero-sum game

In 1883 his forces even had the temerity to wipe out, to the last man, a 10,000-strong Egyptian army led by Colonel William Hicks, a retired British officer. After an indignant press campaign led by W. T. Stead, it was decided to send General Charles George Gordon, who had spent six years in Khartoum as the Egyptian Khedive’s Governor of ‘Equatoria’ during the 1870s. Although a decorated veteran of the Crimean War and the commander of the Chinese army that had crushed the Taiping rebellion in 1863–4, Gordon was always regarded by the British political establishment as half mad, and with some reason.* Ascetic to the point of being masochistic, devout to the point of being fanatical, Gordon saw himself as God’s instrument, as he explained to his beloved sister: To each is allotted a distinct work, to each a destined goal; to some the seat at the right-hand or left of the Saviour … It is difficult for the flesh to accept ‘Ye are dead, ye have naught to do with the world.’

Charged with evacuating the Egyptian troops stationed in Khartoum, he set off alone, resolved to do the very opposite and hold the city. He arrived on 18 February 1884, by now determined to ‘smash up the Mahdi’, only to be surrounded, besieged and – nearly a year after his arrival – hacked to pieces. While marooned in Khartoum, Gordon had confided to his diary his growing suspicion that the government in London had left him in the lurch. He imagined the Foreign Secretary, Lord Granville, complaining as the siege dragged on: Why, HE said distinctly he could only hold out six months, and that was in March (counts the months).

Why on earth does he not guard his roads better? What IS to be done? … What that Mahdi is about I cannot make out. Why does he not put all his guns on the river and stop the route? Eh what? ‘We will have to go to Khartoum!’ Why, it will cost millions, what a wretched business! Even more reviled was the British Agent and Consul-General in Egypt, Sir Evelyn Baring, who had opposed Gordon’s mission from the very outset. There was a grain of realism in Gordon’s paranoia. Gladstone, still uneasy at having ordered the occupation of Egypt, had no intention of being drawn into the occupation of Sudan. He repeatedly evaded suggestions that Gordon should be rescued and authorized the despatch of Sir Garnet Wolseley’s relief expedition only after months of prevarication.


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Posh Boys: How English Public Schools Ruin Britain by Robert Verkaik

accounting loophole / creative accounting, Alistair Cooke, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, British Empire, Brixton riot, disinformation, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, Etonian, G4S, gender pay gap, God and Mammon, income inequality, Khartoum Gordon, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, Livingstone, I presume, loadsamoney, mega-rich, Neil Kinnock, offshore financial centre, old-boy network, place-making, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Robert Gordon, Robert Mercer, school vouchers, Steve Bannon, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, trade route, traveling salesman, unpaid internship

Gordon met his grisly end after the siege of Khartoum where he had been sent to evacuate the British garrison. It was here that his refusal to obey an order cost him his life. Instead of relieving the garrison he decided to stay on to fight the Islamist army led by Muhammad Ahmad. After holding out for months in hope of a relief column sent from London, Khartoum’s defences fell. Gordon was killed and his severed head paraded around the city. Ahmad proclaimed himself ruler of Sudan, and established a religious state, the Mahdiyah, which was governed by a harsh enforcement of Sharia law. Out of consideration for his Turkish, Egyptian and Sudanese troops, Gordon had refrained in public from describing his battle with the Mahdi as a religious war, but his diary showed he viewed himself as a Christian champion fighting just as much for God as for Queen and country.

In 1874 Major Edmund Musgrave Barttelot followed in his father’s footsteps and entered Rugby School. He then went to Sandhurst, again behind his father, where he was enrolled as an officer in the 7th Royal Fusiliers. After the fall of Gordon at Khartoum the emboldened armies of Muhammad Ahmad, the self-proclaimed Muslim Mahdi, cut off Equatoria and threatened Cairo, key to Britain’s influence in the region. In 1885, Emin Pasha, the governor whom Gordon had personally appointed to office, withdrew further south, to Wadelai near Lake Albert, but was in imminent danger of capture by the Mahdi’s superior forces. The following year, Britain assembled the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, led by Henry Morton Stanley (of ‘Dr Livingstone I presume’ fame) and set about the rescue of Pasha.


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Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia by Tony Horwitz

Ayatollah Khomeini, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, Donald Trump, Farzad Bazoft, Khartoum Gordon, Kickstarter, Mercator projection, trade route

The Sudanese eventually revolted, under a messianic figure known as the Mahdi, and laid siege to a small British force under the command of Charles George Gordon. “It is a useless place and we could not govern it,” Gordon wrote from Khartoum in 1884. “The Sudan could be made to pay its expenses, but it would need a dictator, and I would not take the post if offered to me.” It wasn't. Instead, Gordon's severed head was offered to the Mahdi, then stuck atop a pole on the banks of the Nile. Thirteen years later, Sudanese dervishes charged out of Khartoum, clad in chain mail, to meet British Catling guns in the battle of Omdurman.

A war correspondent of the day wasn't so impressed: “It was not a battle but an execution.” The British hurled the Mahdi's head into the Nile and settled in for sixty more years of dominion. Now, after three decades of independence, Khartoum was a sprawling junkyard of British imperialism. The graves of eighteen-year-old Cameron Highlanders and 1st Grenadiers felled by Dervish spears—or more often by malaria—lay in a weed-infested cemetery at the edge of town. George Gordon's own gunboat rotted on the city's riverbank, unmarked and unremembered, near where the slate-gray waters of the Blue Nile meet the dull dishwater brown of the White Nile. Five miles upstream, naked boys fished from the half-sunk hulls of rusted British paddle-wheelers.

Five miles upstream, naked boys fished from the half-sunk hulls of rusted British paddle-wheelers. Khartoum's broad avenues had been laid out at the turn of the century in the shape of a Union Jack, with the streets forming three superimposed crosses. Now the city plan was a tangled, potholed smudge. Trapped in the perpetually stalled traffic, it was impossible to avoid feeling, as George Gordon had, that the only important question in Khartoum was how to “get out of it in honor and in the cheapest way. . . it is simply a question of getting out of it with decency.” At Sudan's Natural History Museum, the Living Collection was mostly dead.


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The Gun by C. J. Chivers

air freight, Berlin Wall, British Empire, cuban missile crisis, defense in depth, G4S, illegal immigration, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, mutually assured destruction, offshore financial centre, Ponzi scheme, RAND corporation, South China Sea, trade route, Transnistria

As the new weapon was receiving its inaugural praise in Maxim’s shop, England was consumed by a long-running difficulty in eastern Africa. The Egyptian province of Sudan had been swept by Islamic rebellion in 1881, and in 1883 Britain had decided to evacuate its citizens and the Egyptian military presence from the capital, Khartoum. A popular officer and former administrator of the province, Major General Charles Gordon, was dispatched to organize the city’s defense and coordinate the exit. He arrived to discover the situation desperate. By midspring 1884 the Islamic forces controlled the approaches to the city, trapping the Egyptian contingent and General Gordon in a siege.

But it lasted only fourteen turns—seventy bullets against thousands of attacking men. A machine gun good only for a moment’s work was not much good at all. The Desert Column fought another engagement en route but Colonel Stewart was wounded and he ceded command. His unit arrived at Khartoum one day late. The city had fallen. General Gordon had been beheaded. His killers displayed their grisly prize by wedging it in the branches of a tree. Colonel Stewart later succumbed to his wounds. London was crestfallen. What was bad for Britain was good for Maxim. Episodes when manual machine guns failed could only aid his cause.

A large expeditionary force, more than eight thousand British soldiers accompanied by nearly eighteen thousand Egyptian and African troops, was placed under the command of General Herbert Kitchener. It massed in Egypt and prepared for the arduous trek and river movement up the Nile to destroy the forces of the Khalifa, the Sudanese leader, and reclaim Khartoum. The campaign would serve a second purpose: to avenge the beheading of General Gordon in 1885. A feat of logistics and administration made the final clash possible. Kitchener built a railroad through the desert to keep his soldiers well supplied. An escort of gunboats accompanied them as they traveled upriver. The Maxims were brought overland wrapped in silk, to prevent them from collecting sand and grit.64 By late summer 1898, with the British columns nearing the capital at last, the Khalifa prepared to annihilate them outside Omdurman, on the Nile’s western bank and to Khartoum’s north.


pages: 796 words: 242,660

This Sceptred Isle by Christopher Lee

agricultural Revolution, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, Corn Laws, cuban missile crisis, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, failed state, financial independence, glass ceiling, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Johannes Kepler, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, Nelson Mandela, new economy, Northern Rock, Ronald Reagan, sceptred isle, spice trade, spinning jenny, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, urban decay

He accordingly asked for reinforcements and put forward plans for counter-attack. He was resolved to remain in Khartoum until his self-imposed mission was accomplished. By May of that year, 1884, Gordon was trapped in Khartoum. Public opinion demanded that he should be rescued. The government, with other matters on its mind and obviously dithering, did nothing until it was too late. At last, Gordon’s dilemma became a Cabinet crisis. Gladstone gave in and General Wolseley was ordered to Cairo. He did not arrive in time. When reinforcements and rescue squadrons arrived in Khartoum on 28 October, Gordon was dead and soon would be a martyr. That was in 1885.


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The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester

Buckminster Fuller, Ernest Rutherford, Khartoum Gordon, Murray Gell-Mann, stakhanovite, wage slave


pages: 580 words: 194,144

The Great Game: On Secret Service in High Asia by Peter Hopkirk

British Empire, disinformation, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, kremlinology, trade route


pages: 650 words: 203,191

After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 by John Darwin

agricultural Revolution, Atahualpa, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, Columbian Exchange, cuban missile crisis, deglobalization, deindustrialization, European colonialism, failed state, Francisco Pizarro, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Malacca Straits, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, open economy, price mechanism, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, spice trade, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade

Europeans reserved a particular loathing (and a special fear) for this Muslim ‘fanaticism’, symptomatic, they thought, of Islam’s arrested development. Its most famous victory in the late nineteenth century was the Mahdist revolt against Egypt’s colonial rule in the Nilotic Sudan, which culminated in 1885 with the capture of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon, the governor-general sent by the Egyptian government (under heavy British pressure) to stage an orderly retreat.95 When the British re-entered the city thirteen years later, after defeating the Mahdist army at Omdurman, Kitchener ordered the bones of the first Mahdi ruler (Muhammad Ahmad, 1844–85) to be thrown in the Nile.


pages: 240 words: 75,304

Israel & the Palestinian Territories Travel Guide by Lonely Planet

active transport: walking or cycling, airport security, Albert Einstein, back-to-the-land, bike sharing scheme, carbon footprint, centre right, clean water, coronavirus, G4S, game design, illegal immigration, Khartoum Gordon, Louis Pasteur, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Skype, South China Sea, special economic zone, spice trade, trade route, urban planning, Yom Kippur War, zero-sum game

While enjoying little support for their claims, the trustees have provided a walled and attractively landscaped space that is more conducive to contemplation than the alternative site said to be that of the crucifixion, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Biblical significance was first attached to this location by General Charles Gordon (of Khartoum fame) in 1883. Gordon refused to believe that the Church of the Holy Sepulchre could occupy the site of Calvary, and on identifying a skull-shaped hill just north of Damascus Gate he began excavations. The ancient tombs he discovered under the mound further strengthened his conviction that this was the true site.


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Diamonds, Gold, and War: The British, the Boers, and the Making of South Africa by Martin Meredith

back-to-the-land, banking crisis, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, liberation theology, Nelson Mandela, sceptred isle, Scramble for Africa, trade route

Desperate to resolve the Basutoland quagmire, the Cape government recruited the services of General Charles Gordon, one of the foremost heroes of the Victorian age. A decorated veteran of the Crimean War and commander of the Chinese army that had crushed the Taiping rebellion in 1863-4, Gordon had spent six years in Khartoum during the 1870s serving as governor of Equatoria province in southern Sudan. Gordon saw himself as God’s instrument and believed he possessed mesmeric power over primitive people. The British political establishment regarded him as half mad - ‘inspired and mad’, according to Gladstone. Despite his formidable record, on his return to London he was packed off to Mauritius, in his words to supervise ‘the barracks and drains’ there.

Gordon soon fell out with the Cape government and returned to England. The Cape government itself, weakened and impoverished by the Gun War, soon tired of responsibility for Basutoland and passed it back to Britain. Gordon, however, did not forget Rhodes. When he was given a new assignment in Khartoum - this time to evacuate Egyptian troops threatened by the advance of the Mahdi’s Dervish army - Gordon asked Rhodes to join him. Once again, Rhodes declined. When Rhodes heard the news of Gordon’s death in 1885 on the steps of the governor’s residence in Khartoum, dreaming of posthumous glory for himself he remarked: ‘I am sorry I was not with him.’


pages: 410 words: 122,537

Engines of War: How Wars Were Won & Lost on the Railways by Christian Wolmar

anti-communist, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, Khartoum Gordon, railway mania, Ronald Reagan, South China Sea, V2 rocket

The railway network of the Confederate and border states at the outset of the American Civil War, 1861. The railway network of eastern France at the time of the Franco-Prussian War, 1870-1. The detail shows the area around Metz which was a key battleground. The Sudan Military Railway built to allow the British to retake Khartoum thirteen years after the capture of the town and the death of General Gordon in 1885. The railways in southern Africa at the start of the Boer War in 1899. The key railways over which the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 was fought. The western front in the First World War showing the main railway lines with detail of the Somme.

However, in 1884 a start was made on a line at Wadi Haifa, the Nile port on the Egyptian-Sudanese border, by British and Egyptian soldiers and labourers, overseen by a company (about 250 men) of Royal Engineers, but work stopped when the 700 local labourers deserted. The idea was abandoned shortly after, with just fifty miles completed, when news reached Egypt of the fall of Khartoum and the death of General Gordon at the hands of the Mahdi rebels in January 1885. Work also stopped on a separate line which was being built simultaneously to link the Nile with the Red Sea at the port of Suakin. Again the Royal Engineers had been involved but attacks by Dervishes on the mostly Indian labour force led to the abandonment of the project after just twenty miles had been laid, despite the construction of fortified posts at regular intervals along it and the introduction of night patrols using a bulletproof train armed with a 20-pounder gun.

With the completion of the railway, ‘though the battle was not yet fought, the victory was won… It remained only to pluck the fruit in the most convenient hour, with the least trouble and at the smallest cost.’15 Indeed, new gunboats were ordered and broken up into sections that could be accommodated on the railway, rebuilt and relaunched on the navigable section of the Nile. Having overcome resistance and conquered the intermediate towns, the final battle took place at Omdurman, fifteen miles from Khartoum, where Churchill was proved correct: the might of the well-supplied British Army easily overcame the enemy despite being hugely outnumbered. The British lost just fifty men, compared with about 10,000 enemy casualties, and Gordon was richly avenged. It was, of course, not only the railway but the whole logistical operation which ensured victory. Churchill described what it took for one box of biscuits to reach the front line from Cairo, involving a dozen changes of mode, including camel as well as boat and train, to cover some 1,150 miles.


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The Prince of the Marshes: And Other Occupational Hazards of a Year in Iraq by Rory Stewart

Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, clean water, Etonian, full employment, Khartoum Gordon, lateral thinking, Masdar, microcredit, trade route, unemployed young men, urban planning



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The Rough Guide to Jerusalem by Daniel Jacobs

centre right, en.wikipedia.org, facts on the ground, Frank Gehry, haute cuisine, Khartoum Gordon, low cost airline, Mount Scopus, Skype, sustainable-tourism, trade route, urban planning, Wall-E

| The downtown area and Nablus Road St Étienne’s Church E as t J e rus al e m Two hundred metres up Nablus Road from the Damascus Gate, along a short alleyway to the east, is the Garden Tomb (Mon–Sat 9am–noon & 2–5.30pm; free; T 02/627 2745, W www.gardentomb.com), regarded by some Protestants as the true site of Christ’s burial. It was first noted by Charles George Gordon, the British general and sometime governor of Sudan (“Gordon of Khartoum”), on a visit to Jerusalem in 1883. Picturing the city as a skeleton, with the Dome of the Rock as the pelvis and Solomon’s Quarries as the ribs, Gordon suggested that the hill to the north of the Damascus Gate was the Golgotha or “place of the skull” referred to in the Gospels, and it was therefore also known as Gordon’s Calvary. The two “eye sockets” of Jeremiah’s Grotto (see opposite) also make the hill look strikingly like a skull.


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Britain's 100 Best Railway Stations by Simon Jenkins

Beeching cuts, British Empire, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, market bubble, railway mania, South Sea Bubble, starchitect, the market place, urban renewal, wikimedia commons

Instead of the intended sixteen platforms there are now just six, from which birds can be heard singing from adjacent gardens. The only note of swagger is the GCR logos that festoon every wall and railing. Marylebone’s discretion meant that it was much used for filming. In the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night (1964), it stood in for Liverpool Lime Street. In Khartoum (1966), troops left to relieve General Gordon on a train bound for Denham. Odder was the hotel built to accompany Watkin’s modest terminus. The company could not afford one at all and turned to the furnishing magnate Sir Blundell Maple as promoter. His architect was the larger-than-life Colonel Sir Robert Edis, also busy at the Great Eastern (see here).



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A Line in the Sand: Britain, France and the Struggle for the Mastery of the Middle East by James Barr

bank run, British Empire, facts on the ground, friendly fire, illegal immigration, Khartoum Gordon, Scramble for Africa, short selling, éminence grise


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The Pursuit of Power: Europe, 1815-1914 by Richard J. Evans

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, British Empire, clean water, Corn Laws, demographic transition, Ernest Rutherford, Etonian, European colonialism, feminist movement, full employment, germ theory of disease, glass ceiling, hiring and firing, Honoré de Balzac, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, imperial preference, income inequality, independent contractor, industrial cluster, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, land tenure, Livingstone, I presume, longitudinal study, Louis Blériot, Louis Daguerre, Louis Pasteur, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, moral panic, New Urbanism, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, profit motive, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Scientific racism, Scramble for Africa, source of truth, spinning jenny, strikebreaker, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, trade route, University of East Anglia, Upton Sinclair, urban renewal

The British were effectively drawn in to occupying Egypt on their own, and stayed not least in order to guard it against a jihad launched by the sheikh Muhammad Ahmad (1844–85), who took the title of ‘Mahdi’ or Redeemer, in neighbouring Sudan. This was the uprising that led in 1885 to the famous incident of the death of General Gordon, whom Isma’il Pasha had appointed Governor of the Sudan, at the Sudanese capital Khartoum. The British expeditionary force sent to rescue Gordon came too late; after his death it withdrew, and Sudan was left alone for the time being. Egypt did not become a British colony, but remained under the control of the Debt Commission. This now became the site of Anglo-French rivalry, encouraged by the Germans, who also sat on the commission.


pages: 424 words: 140,262

Blood, Iron, and Gold: How the Railways Transformed the World by Christian Wolmar

banking crisis, Beeching cuts, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, invention of the wheel, James Watt: steam engine, joint-stock company, Khartoum Gordon, Kickstarter, Mahatma Gandhi, railway mania, refrigerator car, side project, South China Sea, transcontinental railway, tulip mania, urban sprawl

Despite the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, which took away much of its revenue, the railway was extended to reached Assiut on the banks of the Nile by 1874 and Luxor 340 miles south of Cairo in 1898. Sudan, south of Egypt, had been abandoned in 1885 by the British after the siege of Khartoum which ended with the massacre of Gordon and his army by rebels, led by Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad, a religious leader opposed to Western control of Egypt. A decade later, Kitchener obtained permission from the British government to build the Sudan Military Railway through to Khartoum in order to reconquer the country and defeat the Mahdi rebels.


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The Black Nile: One Man's Amazing Journey Through Peace and War on the World's Longest River by Dan Morrison

airport security, colonial rule, indoor plumbing, Joan Didion, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Potemkin village, Rubik’s Cube, Silicon Valley

After winning an escalating series of battles against the occupiers, in 1883 the Mahdi’s forces smote an incompetent British-led force of eight thousand Egyptian soldiers (some of them outfitted in heavy chain mail for the desert engagement). In 1885, they hit the jackpot and took Khartoum after a 317-day siege, killing the famed governor-general Charles Gordon, a British war hero and darling of the antislavery movement. Sudan became a Talibanlike state of summary judgment, famine and perpetual war. The flow of slaves from Sudan to Egypt, Turkey and the Arabian Peninsula resumed from a trickle to a flood. And Britain readied its revenge.


pages: 681 words: 214,967

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin

anti-communist, British Empire, colonial rule, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, trade route



pages: 612 words: 200,406

The Last Spike: The Great Railway, 1881-1885 by Pierre Berton

banking crisis, business climate, California gold rush, centre right, Columbine, financial independence, God and Mammon, Khartoum Gordon, mass immigration, transcontinental railway, unbiased observer, young professional

The adoption of the new time system in that first month of 1885 was a relatively minor event as far as newspaper readers were concerned. The world was in a ferment and, for the first time, the new nation had a personal stake in the outcome. Up the steamy cataracts of the Nile a flotilla of boats manned by Canadian voyageurs was slowly making its way on a vain mission to relieve Khartoum and rescue that flawed hero, General Charles Gordon, from the clutches of the Mahdi. This was the nation’s first expeditionary force and it had its origin in the same series of events that helped to launch the idea of a Pacific railway. Its commander was General Garnet Wolseley, who had taken Canadian and British troops across the portages of the Shield to relieve Fort Garry during the Riel uprising of 1869–70.



pages: 498 words: 153,927

Into the Silence: The Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest by Wade Davis

British Empire, Columbine, Etonian, Fellow of the Royal Society, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, Mahatma Gandhi, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route


pages: 651 words: 135,818

China into Africa: trade, aid, and influence by Robert I. Rotberg

barriers to entry, BRICs, colonial rule, corporate governance, Deng Xiaoping, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, global supply chain, global value chain, income inequality, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, megacity, microcredit, offshore financial centre, one-China policy, out of africa, Pearl River Delta, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Scramble for Africa, Shenzhen special economic zone , South China Sea, special economic zone, structural adjustment programs, trade route, Washington Consensus, zero-sum game

Some argue that this position is an outgrowth of China’s fierce protection of its own rights and sovereignty, and its resentment of foreign interference in its domestic affairs. The involvement of Western traders, the Boxer Rebellion, and the general humiliation at the hands of Western interests in the nineteenth century have not been forgotten. In a revealing moment, Zhou Enlai told an audience in Khartoum in 1964 that China was grateful to the Sudanese for killing British General Charles Gordon in 1885. Evidently, Gordon had supervised the burning of the old Beijing Summer Palace in 1860, twenty-five years earlier. More than a century later, Beijing still considered Gordon’s activities an insult to the Chinese people.8 This resentment of outside interference has colored Sino-Russian relations since Nikita Khrushchev and Mao Zedong split in the mid-1950s, and it certainly characterizes China’s response to U.S. criticism of alleged human rights violations.


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Shake Hands With the Devil: The Failure of Humanity in Rwanda by Romeo Dallaire, Brent Beardsley

airport security, colonial rule, disinformation, failed state, global village, invisible hand, Khartoum Gordon, Kickstarter, land reform, risk/return, Ronald Reagan

I sat down beside him to try to ease his embarrassment and reassure him he was all right and then sent him to change his pants while I replaced him at his post. The city was largely quiet. Sitting there in the dark, I studied the fence surrounding the compound and visualized hundreds of extremists swarming our headquarters, intent on getting to Faustin. The image made me think of the movie Khartoum, when swarms of dervishes rush the stairs to kill General Gordon and his men. Would my soldiers fight under a UN flag to defend Faustin? For the first time that day I felt truly hopeless and trapped, a feeling I determinedly shunted to one side when the young Ghanaian came back to relieve me. Sometime after midnight, an RPF officer and a platoon of soldiers arrived at our main gate, and Brent was summoned by the Ghanaian guards to talk to the officer, who was cockily wearing a UN blue helmet like a war trophy and demanding to see Faustin.


pages: 1,800 words: 596,972

The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East by Robert Fisk

Albert Einstein, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Boycotts of Israel, British Empire, call centre, clean water, colonial rule, cuban missile crisis, disinformation, Farzad Bazoft, friendly fire, Howard Zinn, IFF: identification friend or foe, invisible hand, Islamic Golden Age, Khartoum Gordon, Khyber Pass, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, Mikhail Gorbachev, music of the spheres, Ronald Reagan, Seymour Hersh, the market place, Thomas L Friedman, Transnistria, unemployed young men, uranium enrichment, Yom Kippur War

Certainly it boasted another potential Islamic “monster” for the West. Hassan Abdullah Turabi, the enemy of Western “tyranny,” a “devil” according to the Egyptian newspapers, was supposedly the Ayatollah of Khartoum, the scholarly leader of the National Islamic Front which provided the nervous system for General Omar Bashir’s military government. Indeed, Bashir’s palace boasted the very staircase upon which General Charles Gordon had been cut down in 1885 by followers of Mohamed Ahmed ibn Abdullah, the Mahdi, who like bin Laden also demanded a return to Islamic “purity.” But when I went to talk to Turabi in his old English office, he sat birdlike on a chair, perched partly on his left leg that was hooked beneath him, his white robe adorned with a tiny patterned scarf, hands fluttering in front of a black beard that was now flecked with white.

In need, surely, of a leader who did not speak in this language of surrender; in need of a warrior leader, someone who had proved he could defeat a superpower. Was this not what the Mahdi had believed himself to be? Did the Mahdi not ask his fighters on the eve of their attack on Khartoum whether they would advance against General Gordon even if two-thirds of them should perish? But like almost every other Arab state, Sudan re-created itself in a looking glass for the benefit of its own leaders. Khartoum was the “capital city of virtues,” or so the large street banners claimed it to be that December. Sometimes the word “virtues” was substituted with the word “values,” which was not quite the same thing.



pages: 539 words: 151,425

Lords of the Desert: The Battle Between the US and Great Britain for Supremacy in the Modern Middle East by James Barr

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, cuban missile crisis, disinformation, illegal immigration, imperial preference, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, Mahatma Gandhi, trade route

Although the British feared that the Free Officers were a front for some more extreme organisation, on the day after the coup a senior British diplomat, John Hamilton, went to see Neguib to tell him that his government viewed the takeover as an internal matter and would only intervene if foreign lives were threatened. To Neguib, who had been born and brought up in British-run Khartoum, the experience was oddly familiar. ‘Y’know Hamilton,’ he reminisced, as he copied out what the British diplomat was telling him, ‘this reminds me of taking dictation at Gordon College.’27 It appears that the Free Officers had not considered what to do about the king, who was in Alexandria. After reports reached them that he had asked the British to intervene, they briefly considered court-martialling and shooting him, before Ali Maher intervened.


pages: 767 words: 208,933

Liberalism at Large: The World According to the Economist by Alex Zevin

activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, affirmative action, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, bank run, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, centre right, Chelsea Manning, collective bargaining, Columbine, Corn Laws, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, desegregation, disinformation, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, hiring and firing, imperial preference, income inequality, interest rate derivative, invisible hand, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Julian Assange, Khartoum Gordon, land reform, liberal capitalism, liberal world order, light touch regulation, Long Term Capital Management, market bubble, Martin Wolf, means of production, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, Mont Pelerin Society, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, New Journalism, Nixon triggered the end of the Bretton Woods system, Norman Macrae, Northern Rock, Occupy movement, Philip Mirowski, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price stability, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, railway mania, rent control, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, Seymour Hersh, Snapchat, Socratic dialogue, Steve Bannon, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, trade liberalization, trade route, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, unorthodox policies, upwardly mobile, War on Poverty, WikiLeaks, Winter of Discontent, Yom Kippur War, young professional

‘But bad as some of its features may have been’, surely they ‘would be glad to return to it’ – given the ‘paralysis of industry’, ‘growth of official corruption’, ‘revival of torture’, ‘diminishing security of life and property’, and ‘other Oriental abominations’.46 Any new regime in Cairo would, meanwhile, be submitted to all the powers of Europe for ‘sanction’ – a point to which it returned even as it cheered the rout of Arabi by 31,000 Anglo-Indian troops in September.47 Here tutelage proved unavoidable: ‘we have tried to govern Egypt through its treasury, and the attempt has failed.’48 So during the ‘temporary occupation’ that followed, the paper tinkered with different policies to make ‘financial control’ both inconspicuous and inescapable.49 In practice, the Economist rarely paused to draw a critical breath between colonial wars, even when these arose from the unintended consequences of a previous one. Invading Egypt further weakened the Khedival ruling structure, for example, opening the door to a rebellion in Egypt’s own southern colony of Sudan. When the capital Khartoum fell to the jihadi forces of the Mahdi in 1885, the paper demanded vengeance – in uncharacteristically shrill tones – for a no less messianic figure, General Gordon, who had stayed in the city despite orders to evacuate: ‘The Englishmen in the Soudan have shown the best qualities of the national character, and their achievements will always hold a conspicuous place in the annals of British heroism.’50 More typical of the Economist’s justification of British imperial greed was the case it made a few months later for the seizure of the rest of Burma not already coloured red, and the destruction of a monarchy and monkhood that had structured its society for over a millennium.