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Remarkable Career of the Proselyte Mohamme
svniTri::. For. the sitnday itcrrui-ia
Osman Disna captured!
How tlio bis UtJis of the Soudan must
have rolled their white eyes whoa that news
came! The tribesmen cf the Saharan sands
nnd tho fellaheen of tho Egjptian fields havo
never found a word in Arabic Brest caeugh
to nt Osman Digna. Thoy liavo culkd him
variously -MI. Abubekr. Emir. Keher. He
was tho last thorn In England's side where
Egypt is concerned. Lord Kitchener's work
El Omdurman remained incomplete because
Osman Disna. had been neither killed nor
Tho man's teal name was George Nlsbet,
H:s father, according: to the story now fa
miliar, had taken wife and on to Egjpt
wher tho latter was jet a boy. The elder
Xisbet died. The widow married a rich man
cf Alexandria Osman Digna. The fctep
father Rave the bay hi? name, his educa
tion and his calling. Thus the new Osman
D!?na became a Mohammedan, a slave
trader and a Hannibal of the desert.
Slavery In Eg pi is i.omr ally abolished.
In reality, it flourishes. When the old Os
man Digna di'.d tho new Osman Digna set
tled In tho Berbcrcen country. Here he
hlie-d a band of lawless desert denizen-), who
swept up and down the banks of tho Nile,
capturing oung men and women. The cap
tives were hurried down tho lied Sea -nd
told. Osman Wflia crew rich. His head
quarters wero at Berber and at Khartoum.
The wholo Suakln region slelded tnbuto to
Tto English occupation threatened him
wtUi ruin. Tho new authorities had Issued
an edict against slavery. They cloud the
ports of tho south to the peculiar mrci-in-Cle
or Of man lisna. He a. now a tvpl'-al
Mohi-mmodan of .V. with a harem and 3
bearu. Ituin stared him in tho face. Hi
Joined the Mahdi. .
Ills Aiirtearnnrn In the H'ur.
Tho Mahdl detected tho greatness of tho
new follower. Ho gave him letters to tho
village bhclks and to the officials ft hla bar
barian government, CMmau Disna, In 1SS).
vas comparatively unknown beyond tho
desert. Within lis limits a motley popula
tion feared him. His Iirst work was to
organize a follow ins of desert bandits.
Their bond of union was plunder. Within a
few years he had become tho leader of tha
revolting population cf the Eastern Soudan.
With his hordo of the desert ho appeared
before Slnkat. This was in August. 15s3 He
rashed upon tho settlement nt the head
of his force, only to bo beaten back with
a loss of eighty men. His follow Ins and "Is
influence melted away. The man's satellites
had been taught to deem him invincible. He
was now a broken idol. Tho English dis
missed him from their minds. His army be
came ono of sevent-nve &o!Jicrs.
In this extremity .he dealt tho blow that
first gave the Briti-h their nieasuro of the
man. In a defile between Suaki and Slnkat
ho lay all one October night with the few
ho still believed In him. He knew that a
little detachment of native troops under a
native commander munt pass that way. Ho
enjoined absiluto alienee upen his force.
They hid bchlnl ..and hills and the bare
rock masses. Osman Digna threatened wni
death any roan who moved before he give
the word. When tho enemy had involved
themselves la the delllo the slave dealer's
signal came. Out rushed tho men fre-ra
their concealment. Tho enemy woro al
most annihilated, and all cf O-sman Digna's
lost prestige returned to him.
Victory After Victory.
Four more fplcndid victories over tho
Government forces followed in quick suc
cession. Tho British found to their amaze
ment that this outlawed slave trader was a
General. In six months he had mede him
self master of the countrj round about. His
army grew like a field of wheat. Ho drilled
and disciplined his desert horde as Hannibal
had drilled and disciplined the Carthaginian
The dilemma of the English was extreme.
Cher retrieved their alrncst fatal mistake ?
a Desert Empire Under the
of the Mahdfs Power.
i!'i,!ii I i ii"''i .,; . Miii'TiTFTMrnMlMi :'c-ln ml m !W,!':i "j i'ili'TlllillllllllllPlllflllP ' Or vw W, Kl MPOT liy if
having underrated the foe by sending Gen
eral Graham's army against him. Ilefote
the Englishman could take the field Tokor
had fallen. To understand he situation the
geography of the region must be ktown.
Tokar is Just oil the ltei Sea In tho Suakin
country. A short distance away lies Tcb.
a verdant oasis fertilized by inexhaustible
springs. The town of El Teb hal bt-en in
vested by Oiman with ),'.) Arabs. He de
prived the Inhabitants of feod and water.
Their ammunitions was exhausted. Osman
kept up a hot artillery and h.fantry lire.
His p.an of campaign was perfect. The
Guverno of the town had made up his
mind to hold out to the last. He expecte-d
the British. The inhabitant- urr.- terrl-he-d.
They knew the character of the ene
my and.they feared (.is fury. At last the
Governor had to yield. He surrendered his
fort and his troops surrendered their arms.
.V lllsregirdeil Miuimiidii.
General Graham was dutnfounded His
flr-t act was to serd uu'svipi , s to Otm.m
Dig'ia demanding sulnni- I it K m
munl'atlon the M'.bamme'i' ' , n
de end to liollre H.. s mplv- it r vv i
breastw.irks In the a-N .ni'i na.irl '..r
Graham to corro up Tha utt- io
TTIE "REPUBLIC: SUNDAY. FEP.TCUATCY 11, IflOO.
t!m. With IJaker farha and Colonel Dur
naby to guide hltn. General Graham ar
rived at El Teb in four hours He hai
about J.OW men. Osman nigna's force ap
proachei $.w almost wholly Soudanese.
He bewail the battlo by 'helling the advanc
ing oMong s-vuarc of British. No answe
vvas made until Graham had conducted his
men ejulto around th breastworks. Then
ho opened with artillery and infantry at
once. The Soudanese st iggered under the
choek. Th- Engiiih rashed upon th-ir
Tl.f battle Iastel three hours, n-man
lo": fully 1.0'J men. the I!-'i'lia-ely twe 1-t-ei-ht
In killed at. I l!1 .11 neui'ded Th
Mohumire2.in f'Il baeU t 9 Su ikin and In
two we-eks had intrench-! hlmaelT near
that rlty with a now army.
The British moved upon Suakln In
square The advancing col'imns were like
a ion?, livirjjr laJd'r. Osman Ulgna de
tached cev'ral small forces to hatrj the
oncoming en m Te laltalletfs and ira
rlus I id I een -rol e To t u '1 their tin
Th- l..n;!Kh Htc g.irl. 1 jwever. ier
s!-ti t'i li'ing siri, 1 m Tl'i .V'o-
b !un e led t )!- liter T line of man h
wi hidden in the s-m ke . f ' s uro ilre
THE SOUDAN, IS
at the Head ol a
Tho Potidarcae crept up beneath the "bel
ter thus afforded They Fpranc upon :!
English rnnl:s and boat tlicm bark. The
caraelty of the Arab for hand-to-hand
confil. t served (ra,m Iign-i' purpose
vee'l The G.ttllni; guns, fell Int.i tho Innlt;
of his men.
rarnnse In the Drserl.
Only the Intrepid! y of General Grahai
averted a rojt. He reformed hU brokei
lines and charged the yelling Arabs .-o hot
bvjme the fire from the Engl'sh srtllier;'
that the forces of Osiian hroki In di-my
G-neral Graham made goo.1 1' lv mee
and force"! o.mnn from Sunk 1 'it to
practical idvantae r -!.;; d "i-rna-i lt 1
ti k the Ilild again in a few ve ks h 1 1
.' Sjudane.se and Arabs had faileii un
tho oth'r hand Graham had lost a I fth of
These ovents revealcl clearly the Moham
medan's plan of canpaln. The let-., of Ve
was of no Importance to 03maa I'gn 1 IT.
men were eager le be s'.-inrliie-r-J tuat '.i-v
might enter h por a's of pani '. e If " "
English won a victorv ho let tlie n
and then lerased them fron th- e! - 1
Su h was his cour- when be 1 . !- m Sai
kin Tho English held he town hi, Usui
Digna held tho English.
British policy coniempla'eil tho bt.iiding
of a railway from Stiakin to Berhr. Pefere
the eloign culd be eirritsl out ho rcstl!
herdes had to ! swept from the desert.
0man Ilgna te.d i:i the way All the
lower of Britain was breught to ln.tr 'o
dl'Iodse 'he M( hamne-dan. The ilort n.n
vain. He viw driven from cne stroahild
only to estati.sh a new oc. Amv after ,
army wvjt -lown Intu -.he desert. I ut tho f
oountrj- could not be cleared. By 15J the '.
theater of war had lsn transferred to jvjs-
ta'a In thl can-;aiirii r5.T InJ he aid ,
of two of his nrphewa Ahinl and Kagl !
iT-n hid re'for.e I pr'-ligles f.r the
Mjl.dl aftr shi tting the l.nglMi up !-i Sa 1
k.n. He -rt'e-d the Erkuit. Shera!'. .Mis
hub. ?Jlg-doff ard Blsliirleli tribes These
horirs afforded him levy after levy of re- ,
crulf. He now demanded the surrender of I
bo'h Slnkat and Suakln, and even made ai
a'tnek In this l.e was repulsed But he
massacred Mi soldiers an 1 tv.o etaep-s in a
re Kj i as' no: twenty miles from Suakin.
Mai- iff VSmri.irlitH.
Tlie rallitarj creratlu's e-f the following
rro-'ls -re r t t. f.. i -d Tlie a -n
.nts are too "or.t'ilier-i The news
came, late in l--. "hat Ostran Digra r.aa
been slain and his whole army ctptured. It
turned out that Osman had really won a
virto-v. Ho aroc from the dead on June IS.
1'51 On that day he appeared before Tamal
with another of his innumerable armies.
TTo English now inado heroic efforts to
keep the Suakin route open. They hoped
to do this by driving Osman before them
Unfortunately, he always got behind them.
Tho proposed railway from Suakln to Ber
ber remained a railway on paper.
All this time the Hannibal of tho desert
had continued his slave traffic His roving
land- de-vended upon tribes friendly to the
English and bore off their men and women.
The -aptlves were exported to Arabia and
there s il.i The profits netted 0man Iig
na proJIgioUk s.ims. Nor were the British
able to put a stop to Osman's operations.
The deadlock dragged along until 1$S. In
that vcar Colonel Kitchener, as he then
was. determined to deal Orman Digna a de
cisive blow. Kitchener was then Governor
Genera! of tho Red S-a littoral He fell
upon the slave trader's camp, captured It
and sent the Poudvnese tlylr.g Osman re-forme-d
his troor- anil ret ok liU own camp
from the rear In tho lighting Kitchener
-ot the sever wound which has never since
wholly ceased to troublt him. Osman lost
a. band of slaves In this fight. He fell back,
to Darah with about I.0n) men, and won a
victory over the Amaha tribesmen sent out
f check him. Next he returned upon Kitch
ener's regiments at Handnub. Tho Bag
para horse charged the English forces and
swept all before them. In the following'
April Osman w?3 joined by Abu Glrgeh, at
the head eif 3.0w men.
Tho British, to their profound chagrin,
were compelled to open negotiations with
the man whom they had so lishtly under
taken to FUbdue. O-man Digna receive!
tho emissaries at the head of his forces.
He listc -.el to what they had to say, but
they i-eiuld nt move him an Inch. He de
clared that lie would attaek every armed
force found within the limits of what he
deemed his own territory. He was. how
ever, disposed to nilow- trading within cer
I'lnyincr Ilia On 11 Gniue.
This really meant that the ilohammedaa
commander would da an thing calculated to
prernote- traffic In slavery. That enriched
him. The English were far from satisfied.
Their vessels patrolled the coast night and
dav. But they could not break up Osman'a
pet traffic. The slaves continued to be cap
tured and exported In large numbers. The
great Digna had become a buccaneer of tha
desert. Ho was plavlnga game that meant
the more to him the longer It lasted. Ha
laughed the British power to s'orn.
The man who first realized th s situation
was Kitehe-ne-r. He saw clearly that his
country was plavirg into the Khalifa's
hands s long us the scai.dal ef tie situa
tion in Suakin was permitted to endure. Ho
advocated an entire abandonment of the
plan of cann aign. It seems incredible now,
but it Is a fact that the Cabinet in London
refused to entertain Kitchener's project for
a reorganized military movement. I was In
formed by a prominent member of the Turf
Club In Cairo last jear that Lord Cromer
threatened to resign if Kitchener were not
given his way.
Tho history of the next few years Is but a
repetition of what went before. Osman
Digna held his own, which was all he want
ed to hold. He ran down to Omdurman,
perfected his plan.-, sold his slaves and en
riched himself. Kitchener set about his
great work of organization. He now paid
r.o particular attention to Osman. That
worthy remained as elusive as the eel. Am
bitious Colonels and Majors tried to capture
him. Pitched batiks raged.
On the whole, however, tho Mohammedan
Iaver'3 power declined. England was no
longer playing his game. The religious ln
fluenco erf tho Mahdist movement waned.
Long before the great day at Omdurman
the Soudan's fate had passed out of Os
man Digna's hands. Ho had sunk to the
level of a bandit at large within Its limits.
When Kitchener went to Khartoum Os
man Digna was never out of his thoughts.
I'o-itlve orders were given to take the slave
trader, dead or alive- But although the
gnat Englishman started the quarrv, he
could not run it to earth. Osman came oat
of tho tray alive and free He had lost
some credit in the last few 3 cars even with
his own following. Tho events at Atbara
and at Dougola revealed the slave trader
in his true colors as a self-seeker.
"What news have you ami how fare the
faithful?" Iii'juire-d Abdullah on one occa
sion when Osman came to Orndurmau to
"Master." replied Digna, "I led the faith
ful to paradise."
Then why did jou rot go with them?"
"God," replied the slave trader, "hath not
ordained it so."
The end came ingloriously last week. Ever
since the fall of Khartoum Osman Digna
has been a hunted man. He returned to his
old haunts near Tokar. Suakln has long
been garrisoned by the English. The com
mander there. Captain Burgess, organized
an expedition and ran Osman Dign.i to
enrth in the hills. The old slave trader is
I now under lock and key lu the city he has
L..IM- mi nftsn