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ANOTHER SOUNDIN CAMPAIGN., Issue 7969, 26 July 1889
ANOTHER SOUNDIN CAMPAIGN.
Fob some time the news from the Soudan has been rather disquieting. The Dervishes, as the Mahdi's followers are now called, seem to threaten a descent on Egypt. It is not the first time they have done this, nor is there much fear of their carrying this threat into execution. But a force of eight or ten thousand, or perhaps more, of these fierce warriors, who have no dread of death, and whose onset is tremendous, hovering in the Wady Haifa region, could not but create a certain amount of uneasiness. This amy, of which the leader's name is not given, is accordingly being closely watched ; and the other day a cablegram stated that it was hemmed in between the two divisions of the Egypto-British force, commanded respectively by Colonel Wodehouse and General Grenfell. Later still we were informed that the English general had called upon the "captain, or colonel, or knight-in-arms " of the Dervishes to surrender. To this demand a contemptuous answer was returned, as indeed might have been expected. These children of the desert must have been very closely hemmed in indeed if they could not elude their adversaries. They are more likely to give battle to General Guenpell than to beat a hasty retreat; but to surrender would be to cover themselves with what, to them, would be almost unimaginable disgrace. Their leader said they would fight to She bitter end; and this they will no doubt do, though there are signs that their experience, especially in the Eastern Soudan, of the terrible deadliness of the British weapons is inspiring them with more caution than they showed at first. They cannot but remember the frightful carnage of the conflicts with Sir Gerald Graham, and they would be more than men if that remembrance did not produce some effect on their fanatical ardor. It is noticeable that the encounters on the Nile have been on a much smaller scale, and of a much less decisive character, than those in the neighborhood of Suakin. But it is not at all improbable that the Malidi—if there is still such a presiding or directing genius—may have resolved to transfer his militant energies to the former region, where the British commander, being at so much greater a distance from his base of operations, may be considered more vulnerable than he was recently at Suakin. Thn large force of Dervishes which has lumed up in that quarter, and which is said to be receiving fresh accessions of strength, would seem to support this conjecture. So also would the fact that reinforcements for General Grenfell are being sent up the Nile with all possible expedition by the authorities at Cairo, who evidently apprehend a determined onslaught. From these facts it may also be concluded that the British General's demand for his surrender was simply meant to intimidate the enemy and cause him to retire. He could not possibly expect the fanatical Dervishes to lay down their arms. But, however serious the fighting may be between Wady Haifa and Assouan and General Grenfell will remember how the Mahdists fought at Teb and Tawanieb, as well as in the Bayudah Desert—there can be no great danger of a descent upon Egypt. The Soudanese are the bravest of warriors, and away in the heart of the desert they are formidable enough, but they cannot stand against the weapons with which European armies are now equipped. It is true they annihilated an Egyptian army, ten thousand strong, and commanded by a British officer; but that army was little better than an undisciplined rabble, and it was, besides, led into an ambush. Nothing of this kind would be likely to happen although the Dervishes did attempt a raid on Egypt —the further north they came the greater the force that would be opposed to them; so that unless they actually swarmed down in overwhelming hordes they would soon meet with the fate which they inflicted on General Hicks. But the probability is that they will receive a check from General Grenfell serious enough to cause them to withdraw again in the direction of Khartoum.
ANOTHER SOUNDIN CAMPAIGN., Issue 7969, 26 July 1889
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