Egyptian cavalry

For all discussions relating to the Egyptian and Sudanese campaigns fought between 1882 and 1898.

Egyptian cavalry

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 21 Jul 2015 09:19

During Urabi's uprising would the mounted troops have rode horses, camels or both?
Same question applies to the officers and Urabi in particular?
From reading Bill Wright's excellent 'tidy little war' I would conclude generally the Egyptians rode camels but want to be certain (yes this is a rubbish point of reference) but in the film Lawrence of Arabia a fair number of the Arabs are riding horses and some are riding camels. Just made me wonder, any answers as ever will be much appreciated
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Re: Egyptian cavalry

Postby Mark A. Reid » 21 Jul 2015 13:24

Hello HerbertKitch12:

I think the short answer to your first question is YES.

At the time of the 1882 rebellion the Egyptian Army ( EA ) included eight regiments of cavalry, each comprised of five squadrons, with a total establishment of about 4,000 men and horses. At the time of the 1882 Rebellion, however, the numbers were reduced considerably, largely because of the desperate state of the Egyptian economy. It is also important to remember that not all of the EA participated in, or even sympathised with, Urabi/Orabi/Arabi Pasha's mutiny. The EA was remarkably similar to other Continental armies, with many practices and much equipment imported from France. The Cavalry were trained to operate on horseback although some would have been mounted on camels when the terrain required a different type of mount. Likewise the Egyptian Artillery were trained and equipped to field their batteries carried/pulled by horses or camels and even, on occasion, mules, depending on the type of terrain expected.

As in any European army, most officers would have had some equestrian ability, with senior officers being required to appear mounted on parade. Horse racing was a popular sport in Egypt and most of the Turkish/Circassian lads who were commissioned into the Khedive's army would have been accomplished riders before they donned their first uniform.

I have attached two images from the 1880's, one depicting an Egyptian cavalry officer on camelback ( ? ) in early 1882 and t'other showing a rear view of an Egyptian cavalryman during the Nile expedition, 1884. I hope this helps?

Cheers,

Mark
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VWF - EA Camels.jpg
VWF - EA Camels.jpg (76.21 KiB) Viewed 374 times
VWF - EA Cavalry 1884.jpg
VWF - EA Cavalry 1884.jpg (47.33 KiB) Viewed 374 times
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Re: Egyptian cavalry

Postby HerbertKitch12 » 21 Jul 2015 13:40

Good Lord that was a fantastic and fascinating response, thanks.

Your mention of the EA not all supporting Urabi sprung another question though. What happened to those men in the army who didn't support the revolt? Especially the officers, were they not hunted down or put on trial? Would Urabi not have seen them as traitors?
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Re: Egyptian cavalry

Postby Mark A. Reid » 21 Jul 2015 18:03

Hello again:

You raise an interesting point, and one worthy of close study ... by someone more academically inclined than I, I fear!

A large part of the Egyptian Army played no active part in the mutiny, simply because they were garrisoned in the Sudan or because they were commanded by officers sympathetic to the Khedive and/or the Sultan, the latter their nominal commander. The actual armed revolt spanned only a couple of months and there does not appear to have ever been a " Night of the Long Knives " when those loyal to the Khedive were punished. Whether this was due to typical Ottoman lethargy or a more lenient attitude towards dissent is debatable but a clue might be found in the composition of the Army after the rebellion.

The first decree issued by H.H. the Khedive, upon his resumption of power, was to disband the remnants of his army. A new force was immediately authorised however and a large number of former officers and NCO's were re-enlisted. Whilst Arabi Pasha and a small number of senior rebels were tried, convicted and punished, most of the other officers were allowed to decide their own fate.

For example, Hassan Redwan Bey, an officer since 1871, commanded a battery at Tel-el-Kebir where he was wounded and taken prisoner by the British. Upon release, he re-joined the Army, taking an oath to the Khedive, and then winning a DSO from the British in 1886 for his good work on the Sudan frontier. He retired as a Ferik, or Lieutenant General, heavily decorated by the Khedive, against whom he had once rebelled.

Another rebel, Miralai Hussein Shareef, illustrated below, fought at Kafr-el-Dawwar and at Tel-el-Kebir but rejoined the EA in 1882 and retired a brigadier and Governor of Berber.

The other chap illustrated is Lewa Ismail Sarhank. He served the Sultan during the Russo-Turkish War 1877-78 and later stood on the deck of the Khedive's royal yacht to observe the Bombardment of Alexandria in 1882. He retained the respect of his fellow officers, loyalists and rebels alike, and retired as a major general, to become a writer on maritime affairs.

All this to say that the Egyptian Army of 1882 seems to have been relatively tolerant of political dissension, perhaps an important component when later rebuilding the broken army. The proof of the pudding is in the eating and there can be no doubt that the new, post-1882 army was effective, victorious and undoubtedly loyal to the khedive.

Cheers,

Mark
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VWF - Sarhank.JPG
VWF - Sarhank.JPG (77.51 KiB) Viewed 365 times
VWF - Sherif, Hussein.JPG
VWF - Sherif, Hussein.JPG (87.71 KiB) Viewed 365 times
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Re: Egyptian cavalry

Postby jf42 » 21 Jul 2015 18:46

I know nothing about the immediated topic in hand but, while a lot of water had passed down the Nile since 1800, I suppose it is worth remembering that there was a strong cavalry tradition nurtured in Egypt for seven hundred years by the Mamelukes until the French invaded in 1799. This was part of the much wider and older tradition of Arabian horsebreeding.
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