Augustus Wylde

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Augustus Wylde

Postby privatejones » 06 Aug 2015 03:09

Been reading a book of late titled "83 to 87 in the Soudan", by Augustus Wylde. He mentions a unit of Abyssinian scouts he is attached to or commands, and I was wondering two things while reading this work .

First, has anyone in their research encounter a photograph of Augustus Wylde? I for one cannot seem to find one.

Second has anyone ran across any evidence, photographs or any written evidence of the clothing worn by the Abyssinians on the El-Teb and Tamanieh campaigns?

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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby Mark A. Reid » 08 Aug 2015 01:12

Hello privatejones:

Welcome to the Forum, I hope you're enjoying it.

Regarding Wylde, I am sure that I have seen a drawing, based on a photograph, depicting him in the pages of The Illustrated London News[i][/i], probably sometime c. 1885. I can't do it this weekend but, if you can wait, I will try and go through my volumes sometime next week.

On the subject of the dress of the Abyssinians, the ab-so-lute-ly best source that I have ever found is the book Le Guerre Coloniali Italiane 1885-1900 by Raffaele Ruggeri. 2003. Copyright concerns prevent me from reproducing images but, if you like, send me a private message with your email address and we can " pursue the matter. " The book contains dozens of contemporary photos of Abyssinian warriors as well as modern, colour drawings of their appearance. A really professionally-produced work whose text is only in Italian. However, the photo captions are also in English so identification is quite clear.

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby mike snook » 08 Aug 2015 12:35

Wylde's scouts, a small uniformed irregular infantry unit, clad after a while in Egyptian whites, (people are inclined to think, erroneously, of wildly dressed Abyssinians on horseback), appear in the left foreground of a sketch, by Frederic Villiers, of the Battle of Tamai. It features at p. 184 of my Go Strong into the Desert. I have not seen, (that I can recall anyway), a picture of Augustus himself - an intriguing Victorian character, if ever there was one. The scouts were not fully uniformed at first: my hunch is that whites were adopted for IFF (identification of friend from foe) purposes. They carried Remingtons, albeit some also retained their native swords. Their headman was 'Tedelar' and it is a stretcher party carrying him to the rear which appears at the Villiers sketch.

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Mike
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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby Mark A. Reid » 08 Aug 2015 13:55

Hello again:

I will, of course, defer to Mike's greater knowledge on this matter but will certainly try and find that drawing of Wylde ... somewhere!

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby mike snook » 08 Aug 2015 21:03

Worth adding that they seem not to have worn the Egyptian tarbush/tarboosh/other renderings on their brainboxes, but rather a cloth tied at the back of the head in what might be called, albeit a cliche, 'gypsy fashion'. Villiers drew their trousers at 3/4 length and they seem to me to be barefoot. Bandoliers of cartridges complete the ensemble.

Augustus is too interesting and relevant a character not to have been drawn by at least one of the warcos, Mark, so I'm sure you must be right. He's out there, somewhere, assuredly. It's irritating that he seems not to have found his way into my library: the book named above I have in first edition - I'm pretty sure he's not illustrated or I would surely have published it in GSITD, but I'll double check before the weekend is through.

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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby RobD » 08 Aug 2015 21:53

Mike, the fact that the Abyssinians did not wear the tarboosh is fascinating. I wonder if it may be due to their status within the Muslim world - able to practice their ancient Christianity in secure co-existence with their neighbours. That status derived (and possibly derives to this day) from Mohammed's saying: "Let the Abyssinians alone - as long as they let you alone" - dictating a permanent exemption from jihad. This was in thanks for the sanctuary the Abyssinians gave to early refugees from Mecca. The phrase "As long as they leave you alone" is hotly debated these days, as one can imagine.

I'd like to understand the significance of the tarboosh among Imperial troops - can you or Mark Reid enlighten me?
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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby Mark A. Reid » 08 Aug 2015 23:42

Hello again:

The tarboush was officially adopted by the Ottoman civil service by an imperial decree of 1820-something. It had been worn throughout the Ottoman Empire, and much of the Arab world too, for many years before but was often obscured by a " kefiyeh " or wrapped cloth. The Ottoman Army, as part of their extensive reforms, adopted it as well and by mid-century it was both the de facto and de jure badge of an imperial servant.

From a religious standpoint, it was an ideal design as true Muslims are enjoined to not wear anything that prevents them touching the ground with their forehead at prayers. From a practical viewpoint, however, it was essentially useless, providing no protection from the sun, the rain, etc. Soldiers being practical folk, on occasion, they developed a number of covers that provided shade, etc. for the wearer. A previous thread includes pictures and descriptions of some of these additions.

The military tarboush was a well-made item and could last for years. It was kept properly shaped by regular steaming and blocking and every battalion, in the Egyptian Army at least, had the equipment in constant use. The black or blue-black tassel was removed before each cleaning and then re-attached afterwards. As the tarboush was worn by everyone in government service, from the postman to the regimental cobbler, the demand was enormous. I seem to recall that a factory in Austria provided 50,000 tarboushes each year for Egypt alone so there was an enormous demand. Cairo had its own factory too but I think it could only churn out 10,000 each year!

The fact that the Abyssinians spurned the tarboush may have religious overtones as you mention, or may simply mean that it was too closely associated with Ottoman servitude to be worn by free-spirited tribesmen. Or it may simly have struck the Abyssinians as an eminently useless piece of kit unworthy of hauling around Africa. All that being said, however, it could be a smart looking headress and looked well with a white uniform. Pity it's rarely seen these days.

Cheers,

Mark
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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby mike snook » 09 Aug 2015 00:49

No portrait in Wylde's book and no sign of him in 6 well illustrated volumes of the Casssell's History of the War in the Soudan, nor any of the warcos books and memoirs. Can't think where else to look fruitfully. He'll turn up, though, I'm sure.

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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby privatejones » 09 Aug 2015 01:40

I want to Thank everyone for their kindness and appreciate all the help with finding more information concerning Augustus Wylde and the Abyssinian Scouts. I know more now than I did before.
In my research for the first Battle of El Teb I first came across Augustus Wylde in Ernestine Sartorius's work "Three Months in the Soudan" and since then have found his participation in the campaigns along the Red sea interesting.

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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby privatejones » 09 Aug 2015 05:12

Concerning the clothing worn Abyssinian Scouts, I found this passage in Ernestine Sartorius's booklet "Three Months in the Soudan", and thought I would share it.


"While my husband, who happened for the moment to be in Mr. Wylde's house, was giving orders about the embarkation of more troops for the front, his aide-de-camp, Captain Goodall, came into the room, looking much amused, and reported that the Abyssinians would not be clothed, explaining further that on being shown trousers they almost mutinied. It appears that, their original dress being very dirty, they had been sent down to get uniform, but that they objected to anything but their customary loose style of clothing. These Abyssinians, twenty-four in number, were all Christians, and came to us from Massowah as volunteers. They are a handsome-looking, copper-coloured race, but quite as savage as the Arabs outside. Nobody speaks their language, and it was therefore only by their horrified gestures, and the faces they made, that one could understand the disgust they felt at the idea of putting on the coarse white trousers of the Egyptian soldier. This indignation was further increased at the sight of the shoes. They had to have their own way at last, for they made us understand that they could not move about with such things on; that they came to fight, but not to wear trousers and boots."

It does appear the attempt was made at first to uniform them in the Egyptian field uniform.

Thanks
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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby mike snook » 09 Aug 2015 19:27

...an attempt which was eventually successful. If memory serves me correctly this first group was joined by a slightly larger one later.

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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby Mark A. Reid » 10 Aug 2015 23:37

Hello again:

Having gone through the ILN for 1884-85, I'm afraid I struck out finding a portrait of Augustus Wylde. ( Obviously my memory is as porous as a Camel Corps water skin. ) For anyone seeking graphics from this period I can but enthusiastically recommend a visit to The Sudan Archive at the University of Durham. Their collection is extensive and the staff have always been most helpful.

Should I stumble upon this half-remembered portrait I will certainly post it on this thread.

Cheers,

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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby privatejones » 15 Aug 2015 14:53

After getting a copy of Col. Mike Snook's excellent book "Go Strong into the Desert", and looking at the Villiers sketch of the Abyssinian Scouts carrying Cheif Tedelar, I noticed a similarity of headdress with another work I recently came across. In Augustus B. Wylde's book "Modern Abyssinia",a picture of the Abyssinian King Menelek shows the monarch wearing a quite similar style of headdress. Thought this interesting and wanted to share with the group, even though this work was written about 15 years or so later.

Here is a link https://archive.org/stream/modernabyssi ... 9/mode/2up

Thanks
Barton
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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby mike snook » 15 Aug 2015 18:29

Glad you like GSITD Barton. Yes, I agree with you, those are identical items. I have a feeling I have seen them in other Abyssinian settings, but cannot immediately bring to mind where it was. Anyhow - while I can't help with a picture of Augustus, I'll assume I can take the matter of the scouts resolved to your satisfaction. You are spot on with your reading by the way - Mrs Sartorius and Augustus Wylde are very peachy primary sources for that area and era. The reason, if I recollect the circumstances correctly, that Mrs S leaves the matter of the scouts' dress only half-resolved is that she and her old man, 'Major General' (not in the British service) Sartorius, (he was 2iC to Baker Pasha, as you will know), shipped out of Suakin after 1st El Teb (the Baker disaster), while Augustus and the enlarged body of scouts, by now coerced into their uniforms, only enter the fray in Sir Gerald Graham's time.

Best wishes

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Re: Augustus Wylde

Postby privatejones » 16 Aug 2015 17:39

Mike, thank you for your kind reply. I agree after seeing the Villiers sketch in your book GSITD, the Abyssinian Scouts have definitely started wearing the Egyptian uniform with no shoes after the first battle of El Teb. Guess they still did not like the Egyptian Ammunition boots. In addition, Cheif Tedelar's wide brim hat I also found interesting. I would imagine he wore a headscarf under it for more insulation. I'm going to go back into Wylde's book "83 to 87 in the Sudan", and see if I can find any more details for this unit. I know Wylde himself wore a sun helmet as he mentions it getting knocked off his head at the battle of Tamai 1884.

Thanks again

Barton
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