African Journal of
History and Culture

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Hist. Cult.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-6672
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJHC
  • Start Year: 2009
  • Published Articles: 188


Equines in military operations in Sudan in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries

R. Trevor Wilson
  • R. Trevor Wilson
  • Bartridge Partners, Bartridge House, Umberleigh, Devon EX37 9AS, UK.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 26 July 2017
  •  Accepted: 02 October 2017
  •  Published: 31 January 2018


Equines (horses, mules and donkeys) have been used in warfare for thousands of years. In Sudan, they were used in the 18th and 19th centuries in inter-tribal fighting. Their principal use in the period under review, however, was in the Egyptian/British fight against the Mahdist forces between 1884 and 1898. At least seven regular British Army cavalry Regiments served in Sudan either as horse cavalry or as part of the Camel Corps. The Egyptian Army cavalry was also present. Elements of many other regiments also served, often as individual officers on secondment or as officer seeking “adventure” away from home postings. Horses were used in the classic cavalry roles of scouting, protection of communication lines and of infantry troops as well as in direct combat. Cavalry horses were supported by other equines to provide them with feed and other supplies. Horses were used in Horse Artillery (in Sudan these were all Egyptian Army, for towing guns and in heavier artillery (as were mules) for trailing or for carrying the parts if guns were disassembled. Equines were used in general transport to supply the needs of all other fighting units. These animals were vital to the operations and success of the British and Egyptian campaigns in the Sudan and without them victory would not have been achieved.

Key words: Animals in warfare, cavalry, horse artillery, mounted infantry, Mahdist wars.