Friday, August 7, 2015

The Sudan Campaign 1884-1885

I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy of the reprinted Official Report on the Sudan Campaign 1884-1885, ie. the Relief of Gordon. Its quite an interesting read, even though it is largely about logistics. The whole thing seems to have been a logistical nightmare!

For example, after they decided to use whalers to transport the troops up the river it was found that to obtain a large enough number they had to commission them from many different boat builders. The boats were built to the same general specifications and came with masts, oars, sails and rigging, rudders, awnings and various spare parts.

When they arrived in Egypt there was a contractor ready to transport the boats from the transport ships to the railhead. Here they encountered a snag as the contractor declared that his contract was only to move the boats themselves, and not all their accoutrements. Eventually all these bits were put in storage and the boats were moved by themselves.

When the contract was finally amended to include the accessories it was found firstly that some of the equipment had "gone missing", and secondly that the equipment supplied by each manufacturer was designed to fit their boats and not any others! 

A fine pickle one might say!

There were other issues such as the loading platforms at the railhead having to be rebuilt to allow for proper and efficient loading of the trains. The problems just go on and on. Never mind the Mahdi!

My interest at this time is pertaining to the nature of the river before it was altered by dams and other engineering. There are so few unaltered rivers left in the World! I have heard that there is one left in Siberia that has no man-made additions. This account has detailed descriptions of the river and the obstacles presented by the cataracts. First there is Appendix 0 which is a report on the 1st through 3rd cataracts that was prepared as the expedition was being planned. There are also accounts of the trip up the river and back down.

My ultimate goal is to use this information as inspiration for what the Mssúma river might look like in the Tekumel campaign. And if I eventually do any Sudan gaming on the side that is just gravy! :-)

Some of the maps included with the book...

Appendix 0 - pages 141 to 157

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