Sir Herbert Stewart's column crossing the Bayuda Desert, 1885

Unknown artist

Sir Herbert Stewart's column crossing the Bayuda Desert, 1885
2 9 c m
40cm
actual image size: 32cm x 21cm

Sir Herbert Stewart’s column crossing the Bayuda Desert, 1885.

Oil on board over photograph by unknown artist, 1885 (c).

In a race against time to relieve General Gordon, besieged at Khartoum, a relief column under General Sir Garnet Wolseley set out from Cairo in October 1884. Realising that his infantry, travelling in boats up the Nile, might not reach Khartoum in time to save Gordon, Wolseley detached a Desert Column under the command of Sir Herbert Stewart (1843-1885) to travel overland by a faster but more dangerous route. This force was composed of four regiments of camel-mounted troops formed from the various regiments in Egypt and a detachment of the 19th Hussars. On 17 January 1885 Stewart was attacked by the Mahdists at Abu Klea. The British square broke and was closed only after desperate hand-to-hand fighting. Stewart’s men were victorious, suffering 168 casualties to the Mahdists 1100. The Column continued its advance but was subjected to several minor attacks and Stewart was wounded during one of these engagements on 19 January. He handed over command to Sir Charles Wilson. The Column finally reached Khartoum on 28 January, two days after the town had fallen. Stewart died on the way back from Khartoum on 16 February 1885.

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