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Battle of Abu Klea, 17 January 1885

Battle of Abu Klea, 17 January 1885


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Battle of Abu Klea, 17 January 1885

Battle of Abu Klea, 17 January 1885. Oil on canvas signed and dated lower left: W B Wollen 1896, by William Barns Wollen (1857-1936), 1896. 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 to travel overland by a faster but more dangerous route. On 17 Jan 1885 this Column, commanded by General Herbert Stewart, was attacked by the Mahdists at Abu Klea. The resulting battle was later described by Winston Churchill as the most savage and bloody action ever fought in the Soudan by British troops. The British square broke and was closed only after desperate hand-to-hand fighting. The British suffered 168 casualties, the Mahdists about 1100. The Column finally reached Khartoum on 28 January, two days after the town had fallen. Date: 1885

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Media ID 14389803

© The National Army Museum / Mary Evans Picture Library

1885 Dated Dervish Forces Lower Signed Sudan Sudanese January Klea


FEATURES IN THESE COLLECTIONS

> Africa > Sudan > Khartoum

> Africa > Sudan > Related Images

> Animals > Mammals > Muridae > Desert Mouse

> Arts > Artists > S > William Stewart

> Arts > Fine Art

> Europe > United Kingdom > England > London > Politics > Winston Churchill

> Europe > United Kingdom > England > London > Sights > British Museum

> Historic > Battles > Battle of Britain > Winston Churchill

> Historic > Battles > Related Images

> People > Politicians > Winston Churchill


EDITORS COMMENTS
This oil on canvas painting, titled 'Battle of Abu Klea, 17 January 1885,' is a powerful depiction of one of the most brutal engagements in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudanese War. Painted by William Barns Wollen in 1896, the work captures the intensity and savagery of the battle that took place during General Sir Garnet Wolseley's relief expedition to Khartoum, where General Gordon was besieged by Mahdist forces. In October 1884, Wolseley led a column from Cairo, hoping to reach Khartoum in time to save Gordon. However, his infantry, traveling up the Nile, might not arrive before it was too late. In an attempt to speed up the relief effort, Wolseley detached a Desert Column under the command of General Herbert Stewart to travel overland. On 17 January 1885, this column was ambushed by Mahdist forces at Abu Klea. The resulting battle was described by Winston Churchill as the most savage and bloody action ever fought in the Soudan by British troops. The British square broke under the relentless attack, but was eventually closed through desperate hand-to-hand fighting. The British suffered 168 casualties, while the Mahdists lost approximately 1100 men. Despite the heavy losses, the Desert Column finally reached Khartoum on 28 January, only two days after the town had fallen. The painting captures the determination and courage of the British soldiers, who fought against overwhelming odds to reach their objective. The Battle of Abu Klea stands as a testament to the bravery and resilience of the British forces during their campaign in the Sudan.

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