The capture of the Sudanese city of Khartoum, then under British control, was such a scandal in its day that the Prime Minister, William Gladstone, was forced out of office.
IN 1884, the Sudan was faced with rule by Egypt, then in British hands, or rule by Muhammad Ahmad, the self-proclaimed ‘Mahdi’ of Islam.
Back home in London, Prime Minister William Gladstone sympathised with Muhammad Ahmad, whom he saw as a freedom-fighter.
But General Gordon, who was better acquainted with the area around Khartoum than most Westerners were, regarded the ‘Mahdi’ as an extremist.
The ‘Mahdi’ besieged Khartoum for nearly a year, and with London slow to respond, Gordon’s resistance eventually broke on January 26th 1885, with the massacre of the whole garrison and four thousand Sudanese civilians.
Muhammad Ahmad proved the General’s fears well-founded by putting the Sudan under strict Islamic law, until General Kitchener’s victory at the Battle of Omdurman on the 2nd of September 1898 helped to restore British control.