ABSTRACT

The reconquest of the Sudan and the Condominium Agreement c. . . On 4th September [1898] the British and Egyptian flags were hoisted with due ceremony on the walls of the ruined palace at Khartoum . . .’ and the Mahdist state came to an end.1 The over­ throw of Mahdism had been propagated for many years by some of the senior British officers of the Egyptian army. Most notable among them was Major Wingate,2 head of the intelligence depart­ ment, whose book Mahdiism and the Egyptian Sudan was the beginning of a concerted effort to revive British interest in the reconquest of the Sudan. When on 13 March 1898, the British government ordered Kitchener3 to advance into the Sudan, public opinion in Britain was well prepared for the forthcoming campaign. Britain was furnished with a pretext for the expedition by the defeat of the Italian forces at Adowa on 1 March 1896. However, subsequent evidence has proved that the British decision of 11-12 March was prompted by European reasons connected with the Triple Alliance. Egyptian interests in the Upper Nile played no role in the government’s considerations, nor did the struggle for the control of the Nile, which became a dominating factor only in the later stages of the reconquest.4 The military campaign which brought about the collapse of the Mahdist state started on 18 March 1896 and came to its successful conclusion on 24 November 1899. It was planned and executed by Kitchener, the sirdar of the Egyptian army, assisted by the information supplied by Wingate, Slatin,5 and the intelligence department. However, the crushing defeat of the Khalifa’s army in the battles of the Atbara, Karari, and Umm Diwaykarat, was first and foremost the result of the technological superiority of the advancing conquerors.