The first campaign in Egypt was caused by the political chaos there and the resulting threat to the newly opened and vital Suez Canal. A British Fleet arrived off Alexandria in July 1882, and after bombarding the city landed a strong force. In a campaign which became famous for its efficiency, the force defeated the Egyptians several times, the last action being a major battle at Tel-el-Kebir. After the war British troops remained in Egypt and on the Sudan coast to protect the Suez Canal. The second campaign took place in the eastern Sudan, where the Dervishes laid siege to Suakin, on the Red Sea coast. After advancing from the coast and winning battles at El-Teb and Tamaai, the British withdrew again to the coast. A third campaign took place in 1885 when the British belatedly decided to relieve General Gordon at Khartoum where he was besieged by the fanatical followers of a Muslim religious leader, the Mahdi. A column advanced up the Nile, fighting numerous skirmishes and pitched battles at Abu Klea and Kirbekan, but was just too late to help Gordon, who had been murdered when Khartoum fell to the Mahdi just before the relieving force’s arrival. At about the same time, fighting was going on again around Suakin, the British won a battle at Tofrek. The British withdrew again from the Sudan, although fighting continued along the Egyptian frontier. Late in the 1880’s there were two further battles at Gemaizah near Suakin and at Toski on the Egyptian frontier.
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