The Battle of Gundet

16 Nov, 1875

Azentawievent

Egyptian forces were ambushed by the Abyssinian army at a narrow pass at Gundet; with many dead, they were forced to retreat back to Keren and Massawa

Shalleqa Alula Engida, who played a major role in the ambush of the Egyptians at the Battle of Gundet Shalleqa Alula Engida, who played a major role in the ambush of the Egyptians at the Battle of Gundet

To fulfill Ismail Pasha of Egypt’s plan to conquer territories around the source of the Nile, which were believed to be fertile and abundant with raw materials, an Egyptian expeditionary force of about 4,000 troops headed out of the garrison at Massawa towards Abyssinian controlled highlands of Mereb Mellash. The force was led by a Dane called Colonel Arrendrup. It was a well armed force. It moved further inland while engaging in some small skirmishes along the way, which it won easily.

However, little did the Egyptian soldiers know that an ambush was set for them at a narrow pass at Gundet, Seraye. They were overwhelmed by the superior number of Abyssinians that attacked them by coming out of their hiding places from the slopes. The Egyptian army’s firepower was of no use as they faced with shock the overwhelming wave of Abyssinian warriors coming down on them. The Egyptian army was routed and its commander was killed at the battle. Along with him, other officers and about 2,000 soldiers perished. Weapons were also ceased by the Abyssinians.

The Egyptians withdrew to their garrisons in Massawa and Keren. This however was hard to swallow for Ismail Pasha who had to prove to his creditors in Europe that he was still in control and achieve his goals. So he planned to attack again with a larger force soon.

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