Battle of Omdurman II
Program InformationSeries: A Moment in Time
Year Produced: 2009
In September 1898, Anglo-Egyptian--effectively British--control of the northeastern African nation of Sudan was secured by force of arms at the Battle of Omdurman.
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Lead: In September 1898, Anglo-Egyptian--effectively British--control of the northeastern African nation of Sudan was secured by force of arms at the Battle of Omdurman.
Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: During the late nineteenth century, Great Britain and other European nations “scrambled for Africa.” This colonial expansion was motivated by geo-political reasons, religious reasons, but mostly by the economic hunger for trade and the chance to exploit the rich natural resources of Africa. After Britain occupied Egypt in 1882, Anglo-Egyptian forces reached south to absorb the Sudan but kicked up a nationalist religious revolt that captured the Sudanese capital of Khartoum in 1885.
British and Egyptian forces temporarily withdrew but Sudan survived as an independent Muslim state for just thirteen years. For Great Britain, control of Sudan and the Nile River Valley, which runs through the middle of the country, was vital to prevent the imperial expansion of other European powers, particularly France and Italy, which were demonstrating interest in the region.
In 1896 an Anglo-Egyptian army led by British General Sir Horatio Kitchener began a series of campaigns eating up giant swaths of the Sudan, defeating Muslim forces with modern arms and the aid of a gunboat flotilla on the Nile. Kitchener even built a railroad on the side of the river to supply his army. By 1898, he had arrived at the vicinity of Khartoum and challenged the nativist army at the fortress city of Omdurman just north of the capital. Kitchener had about 25,000 troops, divided equally between tough British regulars and well-trained Egyptian soldiers.
On September 2nd, at Egeiga, four miles outside Omdurman, he established a fortified camp in the form of a military square. The native army, 40,000 strong, attacked and were slaughtered through the British use of modern small arms, artillery, and newly perfected machine guns. Kitchener ended the day with at most 500 casualties; but 10,000 Muslims were killed, an equal number were wounded, and 5,000 prisoners were taken. Sudanese resistance collapsed and the Sudan came under British and then Egyptian control until 1956.
At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.