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Battle of Atbara

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Battle of Atbara

The Battle of Atbara took place during the Second Sudan War. Anglo-Egyptian forces defeated 15,000 Sudanese rebels, called Mahdists or Dervishes. The battle proved to be the turning point in the conquest of Sudan by a British and Egyptian coalition.

The defeated Emir Mahmud with the British Director of Military Intelligence Francis Wingate after the battle.

By 1898, the combined British and Egyptian army was advancing down the Nile river into Sudan. The Sudanese Mahdist leader, the Khalifa Abdallahi ibn Muhammad ordered the Emir Mahmud Ahmad and his 10,000 strong army of western Sudan northward towards the junction of the Nile and Atbara rivers to engage the British and Egyptian army led by Herbert Kitchener. Encamping on the banks of the Atbara river by March 20, Mahmud, with Osman Digna's group of Dervish warriors were within 20 miles (32 km) of the British camp outpost at Fort Atbara at the confluence of the Atbara with the Nile. On April 4, after seeing that the Mahdists were unwilling to attack, Kitchener quietly advanced with the British and Egyptian army towards the Mahdist fortified camp just outside the town of Nakheila.

The British attack began at 06:20 on April 8, 1898; two brigades, the British Brigade led by William Gatacre, and the Egyptian Brigade led by Archibald Hunter, led the attack. After a brief artillery bombardment of the Mahdist camp, the combined British and Egyptian brigades attacked. Soon, the British and Egyptian troops were in the Mahdist camp,

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