CHAPTER II. ENGLISH PARTY.
The success of an expedition depends mainly upon organization. From my former experience in Central Africa, I knew exactly the requirements of the natives, and all the material that would be necessary for the enterprise. I also knew that the old adage of "out of sight out of mind" might be adopted as the Egyptian motto, therefore it would be indispensable to supply myself with everything at the outset, so as to be independent of support hereafter.
The English party consisted of myself and Lady Baker; Lieutenant Julian Alleyne Baker, R.N.; Mr. Edwin Higginbotham, civil engineer; Mr. Wood, secretary; Dr. Joseph Gedge, physician; Mr. Marcopolo, chief storekeeper and interpreter; Mr. McWilliam, chief engineer of steamers; Mr. Jarvis, chief shipwright; together with Messrs. Whitfield, Samson, Hitchman, and Ramsall, shipwrights, boiler-makers, In addition to the above were two servants.
I laid in stores sufficient to last the European party four years.
I provided four galvanized iron magazines, each eighty feet long by twenty in width, to protect all material.
Before I left England I personally selected every article that was necessary for the expedition; thus an expenditure of about 9,000 pounds was sufficient for the purchase of the almost innumerable items that formed the outfit for the enterprise. This included an admirable selection of Manchester goods, such as cotton sheeting, grey calico, cotton and also woollen blankets, white, scarlet, and blue; Indian scarfs, red and yellow; handkerchiefs of gaudy colours, chintz printed; scarlet flannel shirts, serge of colours (blue, red), linen trowsers,
Tools of all sorts - axes, small hatchets, harness bells, brass and copper rods, combs, zinc mirrors, knives, crockery, tin plates, fish-hooks, musical boxes, coloured prints, finger-rings, razors, tinned spoons, cheap watches,
All these things were purchased through Messrs. Silber Fleming, of Wood Street, Cheapside.
I thus had sufficient clothing for a considerable body of troops if necessary, while the magazines could produce anything from a needle to a crowbar, or from a handkerchief to a boat's sail. It will be seen hereafter that these careful arrangements assured the success of the expedition, as the troops, when left without pay, could procure all they required from the apparently inexhaustible stores of the magazines.
In addition to the merchandise and general supplies, I had several large musical boxes with bells and drums, an excellent magic lantern, a magnetic battery, wheels of life, and an assortment of toys. The greatest wonder to the natives were two large girandoles; also the silvered balls, about six inches in diameter, that, suspended from the branch of a tree, reflected the scene beneath.
In every expedition the principal difficulty is the transport.
"Travel light, if possible," is the best advice for all countries; but in this instance it was simply impossible, as the object of the expedition was not only to convey steamers to Central Africa, but to establish legitimate trade in the place of the nefarious system of pillage hitherto adopted by the so-called White Nile traders. It was therefore absolutely necessary to possess a large stock of goods of all kinds, in addition to the machinery and steel sections of steamers.
I arranged that the expedition should start in three divisions.
Six steamers, varying from 40 to 80-horse power, were ordered to leave Cairo in June, together with fifteen sloops and fifteen diahbeeahs - total, thirty-six vessels - to ascend the cataracts of the Nile to Khartoum, a distance by river of about 1,450 miles. These vessels were to convey the whole of the merchandise.
Twenty-five vessels were ordered to be in readiness at Khartoum, together with three steamers. The governor-general (Djiaffer Pacha) was to provide these vessels by a certain date, together with the camels and horses necessary for the land transport.
Thus when the fleet should arrive at Khartoum from Cairo, the total force of vessels would be nine steamers and fifty-five sailing vessels, the latter averaging about fifty tons each.
Mr. Higginbotham had the command of the desert transport from Korosko to Khartoum, and to that admirable officer I intrusted the charge of the steamer sections and machinery, together with the command of the English engineers and mechanics.
I arranged to bring up the rear by another route, via Souakim on the Red Sea, from which the desert journey to Berber, on the Nile, N. lat. 17 degrees 37 minutes, is 275 statute miles.
My reason for this division of routes was to insure a quick supply of camels, as much delay would have been occasioned had the great mass of transport been conveyed by one road.
The military arrangements comprised a force of 1,645 troops, including a corps of 200 irregular cavalry, and two batteries of artillery. The infantry were two regiments, supposed to be well selected. The black or Soudani regiment included many officers and men who had served for some years in Mexico with the French army under Marshal Bazaine. The Egyptian regiment turned out to be for the most part convicted felons who had been transported for various crimes from Egypt to the Soudan.
The artillery were rifled mountain guns of bronze, the barrel weighing 230 lbs., and throwing shells of 8-1/4 lbs. The authorities at Woolwich had kindly supplied the expedition with 200 Hale's rockets - three-pounders - and fifty snider rifles, together with 50,000 rounds of snider ammunition. The military force and supplies were to be massed in Khartoum ready to meet me upon my arrival.