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April 18, 2022

50 Historical Photographs of the Anglo-Egyptian Army in Sudan During the Battle of Omdurman

The Battle of Omdurman took place in present-day Sudan during the Mahdist War (1881–1899).

These photographs documented the final stages of the Mahdist War, or Sudan Campaign, in 1898. In 1881, a Mahdist state was proclaimed by Muhammad Ahmad (1845–1885), beginning a popular uprising against Egyptian rule in the Sudan and capturing Khartoum, the capital. The British, who took power in Egypt in 1882, sought to reconquer the Sudan and, after 1885, to avenge the death of General Charles Gordon in Khartoum. In September 1898, the Mahdist state was defeated by Anglo-Egyptian forces, led by Major General Sir Herbert Kitchener, Sirdar (Commander-in-Chief) of the Egyptian army, in the Battle of Omdurman. Sudan became an independent republic in 1956, and the Republic of South Sudan came into being in 2011.

The photographs were taken by Francis Gregson, who compiled the album and was thought to have taken many of the photographs mounted in it, accompanied the Sudan Campaign as a war correspondent for the St James’s Gazette. He was not thought to have been commissioned to take these photographs, however, which were not made public at the time. He wrote to Sir Reginald Wingate, Director of Military Intelligence of the Egyptian Army, in November 1898 stating his intention to collate photographs he had taken during his time in Egypt and the Sudan in an album as a souvenir for Wingate. Gregson appears to have produced several copies of this album and the captions given to each photograph are his.

In the 21st century, these images, along with other historic records, including objects taken from Sudan to British museums, have been the subject of critical interpretation of the ethics of British military campaigns in the Sudan. With regard to the changing interpretation of the history of military campaigns, some contemporary historians have argued that war photographers have also contributed to the dehumanization of the victims.


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