On September 2, 1898 at Omdurman on the banks of the Nile just south of Khartoum, an Anglo-Egyptian army under the command of General Herbert Horatio Kitchener faced a Sudanese army led by the Khalifa, the local leader of the fundamentalist Wahabbist sect of Islam. The British were clearly outnumbered. Their twenty thousand soldiers faced fifty-two thousand troops of the Dervish Islamic fraternity. The British were the better armed, with fifty-five Maxim guns supported by gunboats in the river, but the Dervishes had two Maxim guns of their own plus an extensive arsenal of field artillery. Kitchener’s troops, in uniforms of red jackets and white helmets, formed battle squares, their backs to the Nile. A mile away behind some low hills, the Dervishes, in ascetic white robes, their heads shaven, formed a line five miles long. At dawn a hilltop observer, the twenty-three-year-old Winston Churchill, who had joined the British expedition as a correspondent...

 

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