Battle of Kassala

The Battle of Kassala was fought on July 17, 1894, between an Italian colonial troop and Mahdist Sudanese forces.[11]

Battle of Kassala
Part of the Mahdist War
Oreste Baratieri.jpg
General Oreste Baratieri
Date17 July 1894
Result Colonial Italian victory[1]
Italians seize Kassala[2]
Kingdom of Italy Kingdom of Italy Mahdist Sudan
Commanders and leaders
Oreste Baratieri
Captain Francesco Carchidio Malvolti  
Mussaed Gaidum[7]
(Emir of Kassala)
Italian troops:[3]
56 Italian officers
41 Italian NCOs
2,526 Askari troops
Mahdi troops:[3]
2,500 Mahdist infantry
600 Baqqara cavalry
Casualties and losses
28 killed[3][8]
41 wounded[3][9]
1,400 dead & wounded[3]
hundreds were killed and drowned[9][10]


Governor Oreste Baratieri sought to capture Kassala, so as to forestall Mahdist attacks on Eritrea.[12] In July 1894, Baratieri saw his moment when the Atbarah River started to rise, and marched his small army of "56 Italian officers, 41 NCOs and 2510 Askari led by 16 Bukbashis" towards Kassala.[12]


An account of the capture of Kassala was published in The New York Times on July 20, 1894:[13]

" Rome, July 19.- ...The attack upon the earthworks of the Mahdists was at once ordered and a fiercely contested battle ensued. The Mahdists fought desperately, but were finally driven from their position, leaving hundreds of dead and wounded in and about the intrenchments. Being hotly pursued, the Mahdists scattered under a continuous fire, and many of them in their efforts to escape plunged into the River Adbara, hoping to reach the other side. ...Hundreds of the enemy were drowned, and it is believed that none succeeded in reaching the opposite bank."


The Italians captured two flags and a number of cannons,[13] in addition, the Italians freed many slaves, including "several white men and about a hundred of the remnants of the former Egyptian garrison; also a number from the tribes around, such as the Beni-Amer."[12]

On July 23 the General Oreste Baratieri left, leaving a garrison of a thousand men with two guns under Colonel Turitto.[12] Three years later – in 1897 – the Italians gave back to the British the control of Kassala, returning to their Italian Eritrea, in order to get international recognition of their colony of Eritrea.


  1. ^ Swazey, Arthur (1894). The Interior: Vol.25. Chicago.
  2. ^ Jaques, Tony (2007). Dictionary of Battles and Sieges: A-E. Westport.
  3. ^ a b c d e f McLachlan, Sean (2011). Armies of the Adowa Campaign 1896. Colchester.
  4. ^ Fichera, Alfio (2005). Colpo grosso dei 4 pensionati. Milan.
  5. ^ Istituto per la storia del risorigimento italiano (1936). Rassegna storica del risorgimento: Vol.23. Rome.
  6. ^ Fitz-Hardinge Berkeley, George (1935). The campaign of Adowa and the rise of Menelik. London.
  7. ^ von Frobel, Guido (1894). Militär-Wochenblatt: Vol.79. Berlin.
  8. ^ Milkias, Paulos (2005). The Battle of Adwa: reflections on Ethiopia's historic victory against european colonialism. New York.
  9. ^ a b Smith, Alfred Emanuel (1894). New Outlook: Vol.50. New York.
  10. ^ The Christian work (1894). Christian work: illustrated family newspaper: Vol.57. New York.
  11. ^ Conquest of Kassala, with map of the battle (in Italian)
  12. ^ a b c d Anthony D'Avray, Richard Pankhurst (2000). The Nakfa documents: Aethiopistische Forschungen 53. Wiesbaden.
  13. ^ a b "ITALIAN VICTORY IN AFRICA". The New York Times.