The battle of Adowa was a crucial turning point in the history of African colonialism. By the time it was fought, in March 1896, the ancient Empire of Abyssinia (today’s Ethiopia) in the horn of Africa was the last African state to have retained its independence and escaped the ‘scramble for Africa’ that had seen the rest of the continent fall under the rule of rival European powers. As a latecomer to the colonial feast, Italy viewed Abyssinia, under its Emperor Menelik II, with greedy eyes. The Italians attacked Abyssinia but struggled in a hostile terrain. Urged on by Rome, however, the Italian Governor, General Baratieri, resolved on a full-frontal attack against the Ethiopian army, led by the Emperor himself. He ordered three separate columns totalling almost 20,000 men to advance on three mountain peaks. The Ethiopians, outnumbering the Italians by some five to one, were warned of the advance, ambushed the confused Italians and completely routed them.
Adowa was the worst defeat ever inflicted on a European army by an African army. The Italians took a belated revenge in 1935 when Mussolini invaded and briefly conquered the country. This book is the only available account in English of an important and much-neglected campaign.
CAMPAIGN OF ADOWA AND THE RISE OF MENELIK First Italo-Ethiopian War
A rare and important account of a crucial turning point in the colonisation of Africa. Adowa was the only battle when a full-sized European army, the Italians, were routed by an African army – the Ethiopians – led by Emperor Menalik II.