Today’s installment concludes Italy in Africa 1896,
our selection from special article for Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 19 by Frederick Augustus Edwards published in 1905. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages.
If you have journeyed through all of the installments of this series, just one more to go and you will have completed a selection from the great works of five thousand words. Congratulations!
Previously in Italy in Africa 1896.
Several exploratory expeditions have traversed different parts of the Somaliland protectorate, thereby increasing our knowledge of that region, and have done much to fill up the blank in the map of that part of Africa. In 1891 Captains Baudi di Vesme and Giuseppe Candeo traversed Northern Somaliland from Berbera in the British Protectorate to Ime on the Webi Shebeli, returning by way of Harar to Zeila. In 1892 and 1893 Captains Vittorio Bottego and Grixoni conducted a more extended exploration in the same direction. Reaching Ime from Berbera, they crossed the Webi Shebeli into the country of the Arusi Gallas, and explored the Ganale Guracha and Ganale Gudda, the more northern feeders of the Jub, afterward descending the Jub to Logh, and reaching the coast at Barawa. By this journey Bottego threw considerable light on the hydrography of the upper basin of the Jub, of which our previous knowledge was of the vaguest.
In 1895 Captain Bottego undertook another expedition into Somaliland, in order to supplement his former work and that of Prince Ruspoli by new explorations. Accompanied by Lieuten ant Vannutelli and Dr. M. Sacchi, a geologist, and an escort of a hundred natives, he this time made Barawa his starting-point for the interior. Leaving the coast in July, the expedition arrived at Logh, an important Somali town on the Jub, November 1 8th. Here it was found that the natives had crossed to the right bank of the river, having been attacked a short time before by a band of marauding Amhara (Abyssinians ?). Captain Bottego’s arrival and the establishment of a station there gave them a feel ing of greater security, and they returned. Beyond Logh the expedition followed the south bank of the Daua, an affluent of the Jub, for some distance, afterward diverging from the stream and ascending the plateau to the Amara country on the east of a river which he calls the Sagan, but which is evidently the Galana Amara of Dr. Donaldson Smith. Bottego afterward proceeded to Lake Rudolph and followed the previously unvisited west shore of that lake to about 30 8′ north. Here Dr. Sacchi left him (November, 1896) to return to Logh with the collections, but there is reason to fear that he was killed in an Abyssinian raid in the country of the Boran Gallas. Bottego, with the bulk of his party, continued in a northwesterly direction along the western edge of the Abyssinian highlands. The unhealthful nature of the country induced him to make for the mountains, ascending the river Upeno (apparently the Baro, or an affluent), and on March 16, 1897, he arrived at Gobo, which had been visited by J. M. Schuver in 1892. Negotiations were entered into with the Abyssinian chief or Dejasmatch, who was evidently determined to allow no Italians to enter Abyssinian territory on his side; he may have received orders from the Negus to that effect. At any rate, the little party was surrounded, and sixty-six out of the eighty- six members of the expedition, including the leader, were killed, the survivors being taken prisoners. These were afterward sent to Adis-Abeba, by order of Menelik, and handed over to Dr. Nerazzini.
Away on the far Somali coast, from which Bottego had set out, another tragedy marked the closing months of 1896. Signor Antonio Cecchi, the Italian Consul- General at Zanzibar and administrator of the Benadir coast, was on an exploratory journey to the Webi Shebeli, when the party was suddenly attacked by night by the Somali, and, after expending most of its ammunition, was obliged to beat a retreat. All the officers lost their lives, and only three men succeeded in reaching Mogdishu.
It is not to be wondered at that these accumulated reverses and disasters, and the consequent drain of blood and treasure, had made the Italians disgusted with their African possessions. A strong agitation was aroused in favor of withdrawal, and not only did the Government consent to put back the frontier in Abyssinia, but it was felt that Kassala should be given up in order to enable the concentration of the colonial forces — Kassala, whose possession had been so much desired, and whose capture had been effected with such a flourish of trumpets. But Italy had now which was garrisoned with only a native battalion under Major Hidalgo. The disaster at Adwa was immediately followed by renewed activity on the part of the Dervises. On March 17, 1898, they attacked a caravan of four hundred camels; two days later they attacked a force of one thousand irregulars advancing to reinforce the garrison; and they laid siege to the town. Colonel Stevani was sent from Agordat with four native battalions and a half battery of artillery to reinforce the garrison. On April 1st he succeeded in entering the town, and, attacking the Dervises, drove them off with the loss of eight hundred killed. With this victory General Baldissera deemed the time opportune for the evacuation of Kassala; but hardly had he given the order when new instructions from the Government withdrew the latitude given him in this respect on account of the Anglo- Egyptian expedition to Dongola. In fact, an arrangement had been made between the English and Italian Governments whereby the latter was to hold Kassala until it might be again taken by Egypt.
This ends our series of passages on Italy in Africa 1896 by Frederick Augustus Edwards from his book special article for Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 19 published in 1905. This blog features short and lengthy pieces on all aspects of our shared past. Here are selections from the great historians who may be forgotten (and whose work have fallen into public domain) as well as links to the most up-to-date developments in the field of history and of course, original material from yours truly, Jack Le Moine. – A little bit of everything historical is here.
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