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Africa

On July 30, 1871, I was astonished by the arrival of the tall sheik, Niambore, with whom I had left an officer and six men in the Shir tribe, to superintend the cultivation of corn. This fine-looking fellow was introduced, accompanied by five of his principal advisers. He shortly told me his story. He had been four nights on the road, as he had not dared to travel by day, fearing the Baris: thus, in the dark, he had frequently wandered from the track. In the daytime he had slept in the concealment of forests.

The foregoing chapters will have afforded a sufficiently distinct view of the expedition to enable the public to form their own opinion of the position of the slave trade.

The amount of corn collected by the troops, now in the magazines, was only sufficient for two months' consumption at full rations.

There was a spirit of general disaffection among the officers and troops.

Although I had worked with them in every difficulty and led them invariably to success, there was a general dislike, not to me personally, but to the system of rigid discipline that I was determined at all hazards to enforce, and to the general object of the expedition.

ON 6th November, 1871, Lieutenant Baker returned from Gondokoro with four noggurs, and the entire detachment of Lieutenant-Colonel Achmet. The news was as follows:-

After the departure of Major Abdullah, the natives had attacked the camp of Colonel Achmet, and had wounded him in the back with a barbed arrow, which had to be cut out. Another arrow had passed through the heart of his servant, killing him on the spot. Several soldiers had been wounded, but not seriously. The corn had been delivered from his station to the magazines at Gondokoro.

A few extracts from the valuable work of Dr. Schweinfurth will throw a light upon the spirit which animated the authorities, all of whom were incensed at my having presumed to understand the Khedive's orders literally respecting the suppression of the slave trade.

The moral result of the elephant hunt was very satisfactory, at the same time most unexpected.

Military critics will condemn my arrangements for an advance south.

My original plans had been well laid. A line of fortified posts was to have been established throughout the country at intervals of three days' march. This would have assured an open communication with Gondokoro.

Unfortunately, my force had been 350 men short of the number stipulated; and the 1,200 men that had once been reviewed at Gondokoro had been reduced to 500.

I determined upon a new plan. I knew the direction of Lobore, as I had been there during my former expedition; the distance could not exceed sixty miles.

If the soldiers could draw the carts, I might yet manage to advance, as I should be able to procure carriers on arrival at Lobore; provided always that the natives were as friendly as when I left them some years ago.

ON 6th March, 1872, we started from the bivouac at the base of the Shooa mountain at 6.10 A.M.

The troops were in excellent spirits, the air was fresh and cool in this elevated country, the horses had been well groomed, and the arms and accoutrements had been burnished on the previous afternoon, in order to make a good appearance before my old friends the natives of Fatiko and Shooa.

The bright scarlet uniforms and snow-white linen trousers of 212 men looked extremely gay upon the fresh green grass, which had lately sprung up throughout this beautiful park.

by Samuel White Baker

 

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