There is good cause to hope that the advanced force of Lord Wolseley's army will have reached that of General Gordon on the Nile below Khartoum by the end of the present week. The point at which this junction may take place is Metammeh, opposite Shendy, where General Gordon's armed steam-boats are able to come down the river. Brigadier-General Sir Herbert Stewart, who on Thursday week again set out from Korti, with additional troops, to lead forward his brigade of camel-mounted infantry and cavalry from the Gakdul Wells, expected to get to Metammeh yesterday (Friday). He took with him from Korti, in this second march across the Desert, a squadron of the 19th Hussars, the heavy section of the Camel Corps, the Mounted Infantry, the Royal Sussex Itegiment, and the Naval Brigade, both the latter mounted on camels, with a large convoy of stores. The troops he had already collected at Gukdul consisted of 1150 men, Guards, Marines, and light cavalry soldiers of the Camel Corps, some Artillerymen without guns, and the 26th Company of Royal Engineers. It is understood that the Sussex l'egiment would be left at Gakdul to guard the wells, and that Sir Herbert Stewart would push on to Metammeh with about two thousand men. The route is by the wells of Abou Klea, fifty-two miles south-east of Gakdul, and twenty-two miles beyond Abou Klea to the Nile at Metammeh. It is arranged that, as soon as Sir Herbert Stewart's column reaches Metammeh, Colonel Wilson, with three other officers, shall go up immediately in one of General Gordon's steamers to Khartoum, ascertain from him the exact position of affairs, and, atter consultation with General Gordon as to the best course to be pursued, return to Metammeh by steamer. By that time, no doubt, Lord Wolseley himself will be at Metammeh. A messenger sent by him to General Gordon returned to Korti on the 11th inst., having left Khartoum on Dec. 28. He was taken ri-oner returning, and Gordon's letters were taken from him. This man bears marks of having been bound and beaten; but, sewn up in clothes not taken from him was a copy of Gordon's previous little note, bearing same date, Dec. 14, and announcing all well then. Gordon was in perfect health on the 28th, and the troops on the five steamers were well and happy. Gordon's steamers continue to seize cattle and grain, and take them up the river to Khartoum. The advance of Sir Herbert Stewart's brigade is accompanied by Lord Charles Beresford's naval detachment, with a Gardner gun; and if Gordon's steamers should be found at Shendy, these sailors will take charge of them, and endeavour to establish communication with Khartoum by the river.

It is quite uncertain whether the Mahdi, who has about two thousand men at Metammeh, will choose to fight there, when Sir Herbert Stewart's force approaches, or will take his stand nearer Khartoum. His whole army is now reckoned at eight thousand, but the information is extremely vague.

The whole force of mounted men assembled under command of Sir Herbert Stewart, Brigadier-General, amounts to over 1900–the Mounted Infantry Regiment 476, the two Cavalry and the Guards regiments 1150, and the squadrons of the 19th Hussars, mounted on horses, 280, giving a total of 1906 officers and men. It may be worth noting that the right designation of the different component parts of the Camel Corps is as follows:–The Camel Corps comprises four regiments, the Heavy Cavalry Regiment of the Camel Corps, the Light Cavalry Regiment of the Camel Corps, the Guards Regiment of the Camel Corps, and the Mounted Infantry Regiment of the Camel Corps. Our Special Artist, Mr. Melton Prior, has sketched a party of the Guards of the Camel Corps innocently buying milk in a village through which they marched. The removal of Lord Wolseley's head-quarters from Don gola to Korti, in the middle of December, was accompanied by much military bustle. The Mudir of Dongola, whose assistance to the British expedition has been of the greatest value, put his iron steam-boat and dahabiyeh at Lord Wolseley's disposal for the passage up the river to Ambukol. The scene at their leave-taking is represented in our Artist's Sketch; Lord Wolseley told the Mudir where he intended to fix his next head-quarters, adding, “If I want you, I will send for you.” The Mudir has since been actually sent for to Rorti, whence, Lord Wolseley has now sent him up the Nile to Merawi, to help General Earle in dealing with the Monassir and Robatat tribes.

The scene depicted in our large Engraving is the start of a portion of the British cavalry on the march across the Desert.

Related Material


Illustrated London News 86 (10 January 1885): 30. Hathi Trust Digital Library online version of a copy in the University of Chicago Library. Web. 21 August 2020.

Last modified 23 August 2020