HL Deb 08 June 1896 vol 41 cc598-9

said that, seeing the noble Marquess the Secretary for War in his place, he wished to ask him a question of which he had given him private notice—namely, whether he could give the House any further information with regard to the engagement which took place yesterday morning in the Soudan, in which the Dervish forces were defeated by the Egyptian Army; and he wished further to ask him particularly whether he could give the House any information with regard to the Dervish forces, because, both as regarded the number of those forces and their composition, the statements which had appeared were not very clear.


Perhaps I had better read the telegrams which have been received from the Sirdar with regard to the engagement to which the noble Earl refers. The first telegram, which is dated yesterday, runs as follows:— I occupied Ferkeh this morning. The Dervishes were surprised, and showed a considerable amount of resistance. Our mounted troops made a very successful turning movement whilst we attacked with three brigades in front and turned them out of successive positions, which they defended gallantly. We have captured the entire camp and all in it, comprising horses, camels, donkeys, provisions, etc., as well as a number of prisoners. Our casualties are small, and do not include any English officers. Nothing could have been more satisfactory than the conduct of all troops engaged. There is another telegram of to-day's date, also from the Sirdar:— Our casualties are one British officer, Captain Legge, 20th Hussars, sword wound; not severe. Twenty Egyptain Army killed and 80 wounded; of the latter eight are Egyptain officers. Hospital has been established for wounded. Several cases, though severe, are doing well. The enemy's loss included the Emir Hammuda, who commanded, killed, and several other Emirs of importance, as well as, according to my estimate, 800 horse and foot killed. The mounted troops are still pursuing, so that this estimate may be increased later. There is a later telegram to-day:— Number of prisoners now amounts to almost 450, and I have little doubt more will be taken. My hon. Friend questions me with regard to the composition of the Dervish force thus successfully engaged. We are without precise information as to the size of the force which has been defeated by the Sirdar, but it is clearly larger than the advanced post which held Ferkeh a month ago. It was reported early in May that the bulk of the Dongola force was then at Mograka, and between Mograka and Suarda, places distant respectively about 26 and 50 miles from Akasheh. The force which had been thus detached from Dongola was described as consisting of 700 Baggara horsemen, 2,000 riflemen, 1,500 Baggara footmen, and between 3,000 and 4,000 other Arabs. All these were under the command of Emir Hammuda, a well-known Dervish leader, who has fallen in the recent engagement. It seems, therefore, probable that a considerable part, at all events, of the Dongola force was engaged.