1860-1899 | Burning towns and cities | Collective punishments | Punitive operations | Sudan

The burning of villages fails to crush Sudanese revolt

General Sir Gerald Graham – 
public domain via Wikimedia.

[ 27 March 1884 ]

In February 1884, General Sir Gerald Graham led an army of over 3,000 troops into north eastern Sudan to crush an anti-British Islamist uprising led by Osman Digna. According to an Associated Press report, on 27 March, after defeating a rebel force several days earlier, the British burned ‘Osman Digna’s villages without meeting any opposition worth mentioning,’ adding that later in the evening a cavalry unit of the 10th Hussars entered another village ‘and destroyed all the huts.’4 The article assured its readers that in the wake of such punitive actions, Osman Digna now had ‘only a few followers left.’ However, as the British force withdrew, Digna remained firmly in charge of the insurrection, which surrounded and then in January 1885 overwhelmed the British garrison, under the legendary General Charles Gordon, stationed at Khartoum.


  1. ‘The Soudan – Burning of Villages by the British,’ The Derry Journal, 28 March 1984, p. 5

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