Arabi Rebellion in Egypt

British — versus — Egyptian Rebels

arabi's rebellion
The revolution of Arabi Pasha in Egypt was a large scale rebellion against the modernization and European influence that was so predominant in Egypt in the late 19th century. Nearly seventy years earlier, during the Napoleonic Wars, Mehemet Ali, an Ottoman general, had assumed control of the government in Egypt and made many western-style reforms. During his reign, which lasted until 1848, modernization proceeded apace, but under his own firm control. His successors however, where less astute, and failed to manage affairs as effectively, becoming more and more dependent on European advisors and ministers. Britain used Egypt as an overland route to access its empire in India, and both France and Britain were instrumental in the building of the Suez canal.

As Egypt became more dependent on Britain economically, native Egyptian leaders, became less powerful within the government. Finally Ismail Pasha, grandson of Mehemet, who reigned from 1864 to 1879, ran up enormous debts, which he could not manage, and had to turn over most of Egypt's finances to the Europeans. It was in this environment that Arabi Pasha, an Egyptian General who was able to win most of the army and much of the Egyptian parliament to his side, rose against the Khedive and attempted to assume control of the country. With so much at stake, Britain assumed the responsibility for putting down the rebellion. The Egyptian forces under Arabi, were of course, no match for the modern British forces. They were decisively defeated at the battle of Tel-el-Kebir.

DateBattle Summary
Battle of Alexandria   British victory
Arabi Pasha having refused to cease work upon the forts of Alexandria, the Admiral, Sir Beauchamp Seymour, who had under his command a fleet of 8 battleships and 5 gun-boats, decided to shell them. He opened fire on the morning of July 11, 1882, and the bombardment continued till the evening of the 12th, when the forts were totally destroyed, and the garrison abandoned the city. The gunboat Condor, under Lord Charles Beresford, particularly distinguished herself, running close in under the forts, and doing considerable damage.
Battle of Tel-el-Mahuta   British victory
Fought August 24, 1882, when the Egyptians attempted to oppose the march of the British advance guard, under General Graham, to Kassassin. They made, however, but a feeble resistance, and were driven off with heavy loss.
Battle of Kassassin   British victory
Fought August 28, 1882, between the British, under General Graham, and the Egyptians, under Arabi Pasha. Arabi attacked the British position, Graham remaining on the defensive throughout the day, but towards evening he launched his heavy cavalry, under Sir Baker Russell, against the enemy, who broke and fled. The British losses were only 11 killed and 68 wounded.
Battle of Tel-el-Kebir   British victory
Fought September 13, 1882, when the British, 17,000 strong, under Lord Wolseley, after a night march across the desert, attacked and stormed Arabi's entrenchments, which were defended by 22,000 Egyptians. The British lost 339 killed and wounded, the Egyptian loss was very heavy.

Short Biography
Arabi Pasha Leader of an insurrectionary movement in Egypt in 1882
Garnet Wolseley British general who led several wars in Africa including putting down the Arabi and Ashanti rebellions.

Story Links
Book Links
Recent Times  in  The Hanoverians  by  C. J. B. Gaskoin
Gathering Clouds in  Life of Gladstone  by  M. B. Synge
Gordon—The Hero of Khartum  in  Growth of the British Empire  by  M. B. Synge
Gloomy Days in Egypt  in  The Reign of Queen Victoria  by  M. B. Synge
Kassassin and Tel-el-Kebir  in  The Boy's Book of Battles  by  Eric Wood

Image Links

Bombardment of Alexandria by the British Fleet
 in Greatest Nations - Persia

Rioting in Alexandria during the Bombardment
 in Greatest Nations - Persia

Kassassin: Ewart led his men bang into the Egyptian infantry.
 in The Boy's Book of Battles