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Battle of Abu Klea, 17 January 1885

Photo credit: National Army Museum

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While on its way to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum, the cross-country detachment of the British Desert Column, under the command of Sir Herbert Stewart (1843–1885), was attacked by the Sudanese followers of Mohammed Ahmed, self-proclaimed ‘Mahdi’ (guide, or redeemer, of Islam). The British square broke and was closed only after desperate hand-to-hand fighting. Stewart’s men were victorious, suffering 168 casualties to the Mahdists’ 1,100.

National Army Museum





oil on canvas


H 119 x W 185 cm

Accession number

NAM. 1960-11-181

Acquisition method

gift from 21st Special Air Service (Artists Rifles) TA, 1960

Work type



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National Army Museum

Royal Hospital Road, Chelsea, London, Greater London SW3 4HT England

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