the Fourth Door
Published by All Things that Matter Press
Without knowing why or how, two college students wake up 50 years older than they were when they went to sleep and with no memory of what has happened in between.
The first door is birth. The second is death. Finally, Frank and Marge go through the fourth door.
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Think Thomas Wolfe. Think The Razor's Edge by Maugham.
...the main character...talented, energetic, charismatic... genre-defying Be prepared for a wild ride."
"Richard Seltzer is a master of educating us to the possibilities of existence once we set our mind free and open the door to the unknown."
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edited by A. B. Davidson and I. S. Katsnelson
translated by Richard Seltzer
published in Russian in 1987
This book consists of unpublished documents of Alexander Xaveryevich Bulatovich (1870-1919), an important Russian traveler in Ethiopia, and of archival material connected with his journeys.
The documents were found and prepared for publication by the well-known Soviet orientalist Isidor Savvech Katsnelson (1910-1981).
The basic field of his scientific interests was ancient Egypt and Nubia. He was well recognized in our country and elsewhere for his work, especially for the monograph "Napata and Meroz − The Ancient Kingdoms of Sudan" published in 1970.
He had wide and varied scientific interests. He did not limit himself to study of the ancient history of northeastern Africa. In the course of numerous and varied historical researches, he found new material about A. X. Bulatovich, published several works about him, and succeeded in conveying to readers his excitement about the unusual fate of this man.
In response to the first articles that I.S. Katsnelson published at the beginning of the 1960s, he got replies from people who had at their disposal unique information about the deeds and fate of A. X. Bulatovich. Among them was Bulatovich's sister, Mary Xaveryevna Orbleiani, who was living in Canada.
In 1971, the publishing house Nauka [Science] in Moscow published works by A. X. Bulatovich under the general title "With the Armies of Menelik II," which covered two of his journeys to Ethiopia, or, as it was then common to call that country, Abyssinia. It was prepared for publication by I. S. Katsnelson and was introduced by his article "A. X. Bulatoivch − Hussar, Explorer, Monk." That article contained new information about Bulatovich.
This book is the result of further archival research by I. S. Katsnelson. He wrote an introductory article for it. He was especially careful about everything that he published and would certainly have rewritten the introduction and edited the rest of the material. But, unfortunately, he wasn't able to do so.
This book is being published in the form in which I. S. Katsnelson left it. The names of people and the geographical names are preserved as in the spelling of A. X. Bulatovich. The frequent variants in his documents are also preserved. The reader will see unpolished commentary in both the introductory article and in the footnotes.
Almost all the documents relate to the period 1899-1900, to the third journey of A. X. Bulatovich − hence the title of this book. In addition, it includes one small document from 1911 relating to Bulatovich's fourth journey. I. S. Katsnelson intended to seriously study that journey as well but was not able to do so before his death.
In addition, I want to note the following:
It seems strange to us that the rulers of Ethiopia at the dawn of the twentieth century were so alarmed at the possibility of an English invasion of their country. A. X. Bulatovich considered this invasion absolutely unavoidable and wrote letters to Emperor Menelik with a detailed plan for armed resistance. But, as is now well-known, an Anglo-Ethiopian war never took place in the twentieth century. Hence, the fears of that time now seem unfounded to us.
However, there was a firm basis for his anxiety. In 1898, England, having smashed the Mahdists, adherents of the "envoy" of Allah, the Sudanese Madhi, established their rule in the Sudan and invited Egypt to jointly rule the Sudan. Hence English troops were on the western border of Ethiopia, the most extensive of its borders. And the subjection of Ethiopia, if not directly then indirectly, was considered by several English politicians as part of the then well-known Cairo-Cape City scheme − the idea of creating an unbroken zone of British possessions from Cairo to Cape City.
At the end of 1899 England was tied up in the war against the Boer Republics, especially against the Transvaal, headed by President Kruger, who resolutely conducted an independent policy. But from the end of 1899 to the beginning of 1900 few considered that this war would last as long as it did − more than two and a half years. It was thought that England would quickly finish with the Boers and would then have greater freedom for other action on the African continent.
And then, as many then thought in Europe and in Africa, would come the turn of Ethiopia.
In 1901 a book by one of England's diplomats was published under the title "Modern Abyssinia." That book said that having finished with the Madhists and the Boer Republics, England could present its demands to Menelik II. "Fortunately for England, the Madhists can now be considered a thing of the past. Soon Krugerism will also be done with, and we will be able to take a stronger position with regard to Abyssinia. (1)
Of course, echoes of those plans and schemes reached Ethiopia and naturally caused concern there because in the last third of the nineteenth century there had already been an armed encounter between England and Ethiopia which the Ethiopians remembered well.
It is now evident that A. X. Bulatovich exaggerated the danger of a British invasion of Ethiopia. But to understand his frame of mind, it is necessary to keep in mind the extremely tense relations that existed between Russia and England in the period between the Crimean War and the formation of the Anglo-Russian alliance in 1907. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-1878 (during the childhood of A. X. Bulatovich) England in every way impeded the actions of Russia. At the beginning of the twentieth century, England took a pro-Japanese position in the Russo-Japanese conflict. The tsarist government, on its side, sought to hamper the foreign policy of England, particularly in the Middle East.
Those facts shaped the perspective of A. X. Bulatovich which is so clearly revealed in the materials published here.
The last report to Minister A. A. Neratov, dated at the end of 1911 and relating to A. X. Bulatovich's fourth journey, stands apart from all this. In that document he appears not as a rotmister of the Life-Guard Hussar Regiment, but as Father Anthony. He had petitioned before for strengthening Russo-Ethiopian ties, but this time he did so from the perspective of church relations.
This report is especially interesting because A. X. Bulatovich , as it turned out, was one of the last Europeans who succeeded in meeting Menelik II face-to-face during his final years. The Emperor of Ethiopia had been gravely sick, and foreigners were not allowed in his presence. In Europe there were even rumors that he had been dead for years.
The aim of this book is to help better understand life in Ethiopia and the character of Russo-Ethiopian relations at that time, and to more clearly portray an extraordinarily interesting man − A. X. Bulatovich.
A. B. Davidson
1. Wylde, A., Modern Abyssinia, London, 1901, page 11. Cited in Tsypkin, G. V., Ethiopia: from fragmentation to political centralization (the second half of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century), Moscow, 1980, pages 222-223.
Having completed his second journey in Ethiopia, during which he accompanied the army of Ras Wolde Georgis, annexing to the empire of Menelik II lands near Lake Rudolph, (1) Alexander Xavierevich Bulatovich on June 5, 1898, returned to Addis Ababa, and eight days later, on June 14, set out for Petersburg, where he arrived on July 30. However, he did not stay there for long. Seven months later, he once again returned to Ethiopia.
During the short time spent in the Russian capital, A. X. Bulatovich accomplished much. Namely, he wrote the book "With the Armies of Menelik II," which saved his name from oblivion. (2) And on January 13,1899, at a general session of the Russian Geographical Society, A. X. Bulatovich delivered the lecture "From Abyssinia across the country of Kaffa to Lake Rudolph," (3) For this lecture, he was awarded the small silver medal of the Society.
At the end of 1898, Count M. N. Muravyev, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, directed to the War Minister a petition to once again place Rotmister of the Life-Guard Hussar Regiment A. X. Bulatovich under the command of the head of the Russian diplomatic mission to Addis Ababa P. M. Vlasov, because of his experience and knowledge of the language. In response, A. N. Kuropatkin, who at that time was head of the War Ministry, gave his permission. (4) On February 23, at the instigation of M. N. Muravyev, the Tsar sanctioned the journey and approved sending icons in travelling cases as gifts for Menelik. (5) In addition, A. X. Bulatovich brought medicine for the Russian medical detachment of the Red Cross − 106 packages weighing about 4 tons. (6)
About this journey, official notes as well as reports from A. X. Bulatovich to P.M. Vlasov were preserved in the archives.
Before his departure on March 7, 1899, A. X. Bulatovich was received by Tsar Nicholas II, who sent greetings to the staff of the mission by way of him. On the day before his departure from Petersburg, Count M. N. Muravyev gave him two instructions for P. M. Vlasov, which better than anything else characterize Russian policy toward Ethiopia. First, he expressed gratitude to the head of the mission for "skillfully throwing light on events and for providing a detailed account of Menelik's plans in connection with the policy of those powers that are most interested in African affairs." The Minister informed him because of the risk of armed conflict between the England and Ethiopia, since the English had put down the Mahdist uprising in the Sudan, it had been decided to prolong the stay of the Russian mission in Addis Ababa, to demonstrate to the Emperor, "Russia's benevolent relations to him and the concern we take in the fate of the government of the country he rules." It followed that P. M. Vlasov should render advice and moral support to Menelik, such that he be convinced "to what degree our goals and aspirations differ from of those the diplomatic agents of other powers in Abyssinia." For proof, he enclosed copies of dispatches from other countries, from London in particular. From those dispatches it followed that, "England is expanding its claims to several lands, including Ethiopia." (7)
In the second document, in answer to inquiries of P. M. Vlasov, M. N. Muraviev broaches the question of "the establishment of the western borders of Abyssinia" and the acquisition of access to the open sea." In this regard, as before, Vlasov must keep Menelik from risky actions in connection with his declared desire to seize possession of territory lying between 2 degrees and 14 degrees north latitude and the right bank of the Nile, because that could lead to an undesirable clash with England that could ruinously affect the integrity of Ethiopia." The preservation of the independence of the country is important not only for Ethiopia itself, but also is desired by Russia. Further, Muraviev emphasizes that "aside from every political consideration of general and individual affinity, we absolutely are on the side of Abyssinia and support the further development of its independence, which circumstance is well known to Menelik who has more than once received from us indications of our sincerity and generosity." P. M. Vlasov was advised to strengthen the friendship with Ethiopia and emphasized that should Ethiopia succeed in coming to an agreement with the Italian government for obtaining a port on the Red Sea "the achievement of this goal can only help strengthen its political position ... we will be sincerely happy." In conclusion, he noted, "Perhaps in the current circumstances the Negus will get the desired result, putting the resolution of this question in connection with the general effort of establishing the western borders of Abyssinia, if only in general he finds it convenient to pursue this aim with the agreement of England but at the same time without the participation of England, even if indirectly, if it will be possible to avoid that, since the Roman cabinet will not act in accord with London with regard to African affairs." (8)
On the following day, March 10, 1899, A. X. Bulatovich set out for Odessa, planning to catch the steamship of the Volunteer Fleet "Tambov," which on March 15 was due to set sail for Aden. However, for a variety of reasons ship was late, and the vessel only began its voyage on March 22. A. X. Bulatovich reached Aden on April 4 and Zeila the following day. He had a lot of trouble dealing with the transfer of baggage.
In a report addressed to P. M. Vlasov on his arrival in Addis Ababa, A. X. Bulatovich describes in detail the situation in Zeila, Berber, and the surrounding area. On April 21 he crossed the border of Ethiopia in Gildessa to which he sent his cargo on two caravans of camels. Here he met the mission of Major Marchand which was going from Addis Ababa to the coast of the Red Sea after a failed attempt to gain a foothold in East Sudan. From conversations with Marchand and his fellow officers, A. X. Bulatovich got the impression that military conflict between Ethiopia and England was inevitable. According to Marchand, "England will never be at ease in the Sudan, as long as there is a warlike and strong Abyssinia on its flank." (9)
On April 22, A. X. Bulatovich arrived in Harar, where he was given a warm welcome. He stayed there until May 10, awaiting the arrival of the second caravan with medicine. Finally, on the morning of May 10, A. X. Bulatovich left for Addis Ababa. He was accompanied by just one Ethiopian servant. He had only two saddle mules. An indefatigable traveler, he, as he had during his previous two journeys, covered 500 versts [330 miles], from Harar to Addis Ababa, in 101 hours, of which 82 hours were on the road and 19 for stops, including only 9 hours of sleep. (10) On May 14, 1899, A. X. Bulatovich arrived in Addis Ababa. P. M. Vlasov sent a report to M. N. Muravivv by the first post. (11)
Given the bloody battle with the Madhists at Omdurman and the diplomatic defeat of the French at Fashoda, the English had possession of and had consolidated their hold on the Upper Nile. (12) Hence ,they persistently strove to bring to fruition a plan to build a rail line from Cape City to Cairo thanks to the consolidation of their supremacy in Africa. It is true that at the time of A. X. Bulatovich's arrival in Addis Ababa the English had not yet undertaken any openly hostile actions against Ethiopia, since it was but a short time after they gained a firm hold on the Sudan. At the same time, such a close neighbor appeared to be a serious potential threat, and secret plots went on non-stop. "England with the help of Italy somehow succeeded in drawing the Emperor into war with his vassals (13) (and by so doing diverted the best commanders and their armies for this war at a time when they were needed to consolidate the position they then occupied on the White and Blue Niles.) One must expect that England's long-term mission is to extend this war and in so doing to weaken the Negus." (14)
Not only did P. M. Vlasov understand this, since he was well versed in the intricate politics of the colonial powers and he had often warned Menelik in advance of the intrigues of the English, but also the Emperor himself, who undeniably had intelligence, insight, and strength of will, understood it too. It is also well known that for more than a year, up to the victory of Kitchener over the Mahdists, Menelik in order to strengthen the western and southwestern borders of his country sent out three military expeditions: Ras Tesemma from the lower reaches of the Sobat River to the White Nile (Colonel L. K. Artamonov who was attached to P. M. Vlasov's mission took part in that expedition), (15) Ras Makonnen in Beni-Shangul, and Ras Wolde Georgis to Lake Rudolf (A. X. Bulatovich went with him). (16) Understanding that in the current situation France was less dangerous than England, the Emperor, choosing the lesser of two evils, used the rivalry between them and helped French expeditions that set out across Ethiopia to the White Nile to meet Marchand with the aim of establishing French dominion on the upper course of that river. (17) Moreover, already before the fall of Khartoum, Menelik strove to establish if not friendship then in any case neighborly relations with his former enemies the Mahdists. With this aim, he went into secret correspondence with the Caliph Abdallah correctly suggesting that England was threatening both of them and that in the changed circumstances of the Sudan, it would be easier to organize to repulse England. (18) Therefore, before sending the detachment of Ras Tesemma, he warned the Caliph on December 15, 1897 about his intentions and about the designs of the colonial powers who were striving to drive a wedge into his possessions and to separate them from one another. Thus Menelik, in essence, betrayed to Abdallah the French plans, recommending in veiled form that in case of the arrival of the Bonchamps expedition "to dispatch it peacefully... and to not listen to rumors (to be more exact to 'gossip') about me. My only intent is to strengthen our friendship with you and to protect our countries from enemies." The letter was intended to suggest to the Caliph that he was not threatened from the side of Ethiopia and therefore should not divert his strength from the struggle with England. (19) The military successes of the English in the Sudan continued to worry Menelik, and at the end of 1898 he sent significant forces to Metama. (20) The English while not undertaking forceful operations all the same tried, as P. M. Vlasov reported at the beginning of 1899, "to strengthen the positions they held in Kalabat and Godaref, on the right bank of the Atbar River, to support with the help of military gunboats their authority at the mouth of the Sobat River and to bring forward advanced posts from Rozeyros on the Blue Nile on the south to the side of Beni-Shangul, with the aim of joining the inhabitants of that territory in an attempt to draw them to their side." (21) Dajazmatch Demissew already had his army in Beni-Shangul. Menelik had prudently sent him to that territory to strengthen it for Ethiopia. As for the lower Sobat and the banks of the Blue Nile, Ras Tesemma did not succeed in gaining a foothold there. He only planted the Ethiopian flag, after which his advanced unit returned. (22)
After the defeat of France at Fashoda (which definitely become clear at the end of 1898), the French Minister of Foreign Affairs Delcassé had to order Marchand to return home. That made it known in the relationship between France and Ethiopia that whereas before Ethiopia "considered France with open trust, now they turned their back on France." One of the reasons for this was the French had disappointed them by not supporting them against England, whose actions on the borders of Ethiopia were very troubling to Menelik.(23) News came to the capital that a detachment of Anglo-Egyptian troops had occupied Metama and despite the protests of Ethiopia had planted the Anglo-Egyptian flag there. Kitchener assured them that "England does not have any aggressive aims against Ethiopia, values its friendship and peace with it, and only occupies territory that is in the sphere of influence of the Sudan, which has always belonged to Egypt, except for when it was temporarily torn away by the Mahdists." The Emperor could not rest easy. Based on long experience, he knew the value of such statements, all the more so because Harrington, the English representative in Addis Ababa, behaved rudely and demandingly. (24) In that same report, P. M. Vlasov informed M. N. Muraviev that he had met with Menelik on January 20 and 22, and Menelik had complained to him about the intrigues of England, France, and Italy and asked for his opinion of related actions and intentions of England. Explaining that he could only share his personal thoughts, and not the opinions of his government, the Russian diplomat told the Emperor approximately what follows:
Not having consolidated its power in the Sudan, which would take time (only a year and a half had passed since the capture of Khartoum, Great Britain was trying to avoid conflict with Ethiopia. Therefore, Ethiopia could show firmness and persistence in trying to realize its goals. The occupation of Rozenros, the upper reaches of the Atbara, sending gunboats to the mouth of the Sobat and a reconnaissance detachment to Beni-Shangul − all of these acts of England amounted to no more than an extension of the Sudan expedition, since all these areas were formerly controlled by the Sudan. Situation was not worth the risk war with England, especially since from the economic point of view these areas had no great value, and the odds of success were slim. Because the English controlled the Sudan and Egypt, if Ethiopia kept some parcel of land on the Blue Nile, at any moment England could cut off the way north and thereby cut off its way to the sea which Ethiopia so much wanted. Wouldn't it be better to negotiate with the English about exchanging a piece of territory on the Blue Nile for a port on the Red Sea, such as Zeila or Berber?
As for the southern borders, the threat there was more serious. The lands newly united with Ethiopia in the region of Lake Rudolph and Lake Stephanie where Ethiopia's influence was very weak, immediately bordered on the English possession of Uganda. Here it was necessary to reinforce garrisons and to with humane treatment secure the favor of the tribes who lived there.
Thus, since it was the sincere desire of Russia to protect Ethiopia from danger, P. M. Vlasov gave Menelik well-meaning advice concerning the security of the borders of his country.
At that time, both Anglo-Egyptian and Ethiopian armies were advancing to meet one another. Because there was no road, the news of that advance arrived at Addis Ababa after a significant delay. Hence on February 18, 1899, Harrington informed P. M. Vlasov that an Anglo-Egyptian detachment took Fasokl on the Blue Nile, southwest of Rozeyros. This action impeded Ethiopian progress to the Blue Nile and threatened Beni-Shangul, to which at the end of 1898 Dajazmatch Demissew had advanced. The English could now directly communicate with the Moslem population and set them against the Christian Ethiopians. (25)
As for Dajazmatch Demissew , he succeeded in going to the northern limits of Beni-Shangul, that is to the Blue Nile, a little south of Famaka, where he ran up against the Anglo-Egyptian detachment. Here a very important incident took place. This is known of from a letter from Demissew to his father, Afe-Nygusu-Nesibu, who was on the Ethiopian Supreme Court. We reproduce that letter in the account of P. M. Vlasov. The English commander of the detachment demanded a meeting with Demissew. In answer to the question of where the Ethiopian army was heading, Demissew answered that it was going to find the flag that was planted in 1897 by Ras Makonnen on the border of this country. The English officer declared that he had that flag. Demissew demanded that he return the flag to its former place. The English brought the flag and suggested to him that they would raise it, but Demissew would not agree, saying "We planted the flag of our own volition, and now we should raise it again ourselves." Then the English reinforced the Ethiopian flag, saluted it, and went south.
P. M. Vlasov drew from this incident the conclusion that "the English in view of the significant superiority of Abyssinian arms and the obvious risk of being beaten decided not to join battle with them in open conflict and abided by the Ethiopian demand." However, he didn't know if this fact was a sufficient guarantee of English recognition of the rights of Ethiopia to Beni-Shangul. (26)
And there were reasons for doubt. It was a month after the aforementioned report was sent that the incident became known and Harrington asked Menelik − on what basis are Ethiopian armies advancing to Fasokl? The Emperor answered decisively. He told the British government that "the region of Beni-Shangul was subject to his force of arms. It belonged to him, and he would defend it with arms in hand." Harrington declared that if in the near future he did not receive an explanation of the intentions of Ethiopia with regard to the valleys of the White Nile and the Blue Nile, a delineation of English borders on the northwest, west and south, he would abandon Addis Ababa. (27) Such conduct of the British diplomat greatly irritated the Emperor.
However, the English government considered it was not a good time for an open break with Ethiopia and therefore ordered Harrington to explain to the Emperor that he should consider he had the borders he desired in disputed regions on the west and in regions for which he had proofs of his possession. P. M. Vlasov believed and subsequent events confirmed that it was for the most part true that the English "by right of conquest had the whole right bank of the White Nile and the Sobat and Juba Rivers... and had no objection to offering the Emperor the territory of Hedaref and Kalabatwit the upper reaches of the Atbar River to the Tomat and the country of Beni-Shangul with the middle course of the Blue Nile to Rozeyros.
Conceding this piece of Mahdist territory to Ethiopia, England gained the possibility of "sowing among the Mahdists irreconcilable hatred for Ethiopia for an extended time, and always being at the ready for starting an uprising against the government of Ethiopia." If Menelik refused the English terms, P. M. Vlasov didn't rule out the outbreak of war. (28)
At this time of his return trip from Fashoda to France, Marchand and his fellow travelers stayed a month in Addis Ababa. He strove to win over the Emperor to help France and at the same time to harm England, but he considered war between England and Ethiopia and England's victory in that war inevitable. Marchand had stationed on the Baro River two gunboats with two guns each, and ammunition for them, a quarter million cartridges and seven boats. He gave all these possessions to Menelik. The guns were set up at strategically advantageous positions, and the people of Tesemma were taught how to use them. In addition, French officers consulted with Tesemma regarding measures necessary for the defense of the territory he ruled. (29)
In not-yet subdued areas of the Sudan, the situation was becoming complicated, and the English were beginning to fear for the safety of their advanced posts on the White Nile and the Blue Nile. The Madhists could cut them off from their base. Probably following orders he had received and taking stock of the situation, Harrington lowered his tone and began to reassure the Emperor about the peace-lovingness of England and that England did not passionately desire anything, that their countries were in agreement, and that therefore he was asking for terms for immediate talks regarding the establishing of borders. (30) The Emperor, an experienced, clever, and seasoned politician, was in no hurry to answer. He said that he would think about it and give his opinion later. In the meantime, he strengthened his forces for "he had definitely decided to not agree to any concessions to the English." (31)
Evidently because of the aggressive nature of English policy, P. M. Vlasov supposed that war between England and Ethiopia was "probably inevitable." Furthermore, he stated his thoughts in case his prediction came true. He was worried about the separatist aspirations of the leaders of several regions. However, in view of the anticipated danger, they would probably all rally to Menelik and recognize his authority and understand that only united could they ensure independence and possibly succeed in protecting the integrity of the country. (The Emperor could call up from 200,000 to 300,000 warriors). If military action should drag on, then it would be necessary to resort to guerrilla tactics and to gather additional reserves. Out of 160,000 to170,000 rifles, roughly a third were Berdan rifles given by Russia, and the rest were Gra system rifles. The insufficiency of firearms and of ammunition for weapons of different calibers could put Ethiopia in an extremely difficult if not critical situation. Moreover, it was necessary to keep in mind that the majority of the pieces of ordinance seized from the Italians were unusable. There were few ammunition for them, and there were no trained artillery men. They had only a few machine guns. And they didn't have the necessary financial base.
The aggressiveness of England, in the opinion of P. M. Vlasov, was based on its aspiration to put together an uninterrupted chain of railways from its South African colonies to Egypt, as well as a series of other considerations. One of those considerations was the necessity to "take the preeminent position in Africa and to extend its military base from England to the shores of the Indian Ocean and thus to protect its main communication line with India and other colonies in case of seizure or blocking of the Suez Canal... it would not hesitate to deal with any such difficulties and would not stop at any act of violence or seizure." Since natural and climatic conditions of the Nile valley were not very favorable for building a railway, the English would strie to build it in the foothills of the Abyssinian mountains through Kassadu, Tomat, Famaku, Kirin, the Baro River, the area around the western side of Lake Rudolph with an exit at Unassa on Lake Victoria, where it would join with the rail line that leads to Mombasa on the shores of the Indian Ocean. (32)
Afraid of severely damaging his prestige in the eyes of vassal leaders and his people, Menelik did not want to lose any of the annexed lands. So he decisively declared that he would not agree to any territorial concessions.
Such was the political situation when A. X. Bulatovich arrived in Addis Ababa. As mentioned earlier, this took place on May 14, 1899. A few days later, Harrington was recalled from Ethiopia. That, in the opinion of P. M. Vlasov, was the consequence of the displeasure provoked by his behavior. Henceforth the developing negotiations about the establishment of borders with the Sudan could get complicated and could even lead to a complete break which at that time was not desirable for England because of the circumstances explained above. (33)
In the course of a farewell discussion with Harrington, P. M. Vlasov explained the principles that were making it difficult for England to realize its aggressive intentions, which they had not given up on, despite peaceful assurances. The planned advancement from Uganda to the north to unite the detachment of Major MacDonald with the army of Kitchener did not take place because of unrest among his soldiers. (34) Thus the English did not succeed in uniting their forces along the Nile, although they did move forward insignificant posts to the borders of Beni-Shangul and the mouth of the Omo River. They went as far as Gore, the residence of Dajazmatch Tesemma. England, in the opinion of P. M. Vlasov, wanted to present Menelik with a fait accompli, i.e., to annex the whole territory from 35 degrees west longitude and 6 degrees south latitude, but not to go so far as an explicit break in relations. As for Ethiopia, it could, in case of war, lose again regions it had annexed, and, what was much worse, the aggressor could "develop a taste" for inflicting "brutal and mortal blows to Ethiopia's integrity and independence; for invading rich and populous regions of Leku and Wollaga and then Shoa as far as Harar. Thus, the country would be divided in two, and the most populated and productive part would fall into the hands of the enemy. (35)
Fortunately, the fears of P. M. Vlasov were never realized and his prognosis of an advance by the English happened only partly.
Despite the potentially menacing situation, Menelik took a hard stand, as demonstrated by the following episode. Before his departure for England Harrington asked Menelik to make a phonograph recording of a greeting to Queen Victoria. This is what happened. The Emperor agreed. However, after the usual diplomatic expressions, Menelik declared, what Harrington least of all expected or wanted, that Metama, as was known to all, always belonged to Ethiopia, that the seizure of it by the English was unjust, and that he wanted to send an army there. (36) Menelik warned the English representative that he would only wait until September for an answer to the declaration he had made about the liberation of Metama. (37)
When the Anglo-Egyptian army advanced in 1898 to the borders of Beni-Shangul, Menelik ordered the ruler of Wollaga, Dajazmatch Demissew, to set out to there with a detachment of 5000 men and to take Fasokl. (38) At a reception with the Emperor on June 3, 1899, P. M. Vlasov discussed with him the possibility of sending A. X. Bulatovich to Beni-Shangul for a geodesic survey of that almost unexplored region. The final decision about that journey was made on June 20, and six days later A. X. Bulatovich set out with orders from the Emperor that he should be shown be given full cooperation, and with also instructions from P. M. Vlasov that he should "strictly follow." He should avoid approaching English advanced posts on the border of Beni-Shangul and also in Rozeyros, Fasokl, and Metama. He should not have dealings with English leaders, should not cross the boundaries of actual influence of Abyssinia, and should not take part in military actions. Furthermore, A. X. Bulatovich was ordered to gather information about the lands he had occasion to visit. (39)
Meanwhile the English conducted themselves aggressively. As Dajazmatch Tesemma reported soon after the departure the Marchand expedition from his residence in Gore, an English cutter with an officer and sixteen soldiers appeared. Having reached the place where the French gunboat and motorboats were located, they captured the sentries and tried to get them to reveal the location of the engine of the gunboat which had been taken apart and hidden. Having not succeeded, the English carried off two of the better motorboats and returned to the Sobat River. By order of Tesemma, a detachment of his pursued them but did not succeed in catching them. (40)
A. X. Bulatovich returned to Addis Ababa on October 24, 1899. Thus, the journey lasted four months. That can be determined from his reports to P. M. Vlasov, of which there were six, the fourth of which apparently was not saved. In any case, the fourth is not in the archives. In addition, there are two letters from July 8 and 29 addressed to him.
After the tragic death of A. X. Bulatovich on the night of December 5 to 6, 1919, papers found in the cell built by him on the estate that had belonged to his mother up until the revolution, were handed over to the church of the village of Lutsikovka (today in the Belopolsky region of the Sumskiy district) and were lost or destroyed when it was closed. As for the archives of the Russian embassy in Ethiopia, they were turned over to the custody of the French by the last diplomatic representative of Russia, who did not want to submit to the changes in his native land. The French took them to Paris in 1936. And during the Second World War, in June 1940, they were burnt together with secondary archives of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a result of one of the German air raids. (41) Therefore, the copies of the reports of A. X. Bulatovich that P. M. Vlasov sent to M. N. Muraviev are the only evidence of his journey to regions of Ethiopia that had not previously been explored.
In our opinion, it is not necessary to relate the contents of the interesting but, unfortunately, brief reports of A. X. Bulatovich. In them is recounted not only the difficulties that he had to overcome on this trip, but, what is very important, details of social relations, for instance the still far from eliminated slave owning and the complex external political situation and many other matters about which other evidence scarcely remains. (42) Hence we value these reports as a unique resource, even more valuable in that their author, in contrast to English, French, and Italian observers, was not motivated by any commercial considerations; his sympathies were completely on the side of the Ethiopians, who he sincerely sought to help. This aspiration prompted him to compose three letters to Menelik after his return to Addis Ababa, based on the materials and impressions he had gathered. Of course, in a number of cases the thoughts and proposals he expounded were utopian and in the conditions at that time were impracticable. They often didn't coincide with the plans and intentions of Russian policy as it was conducted in Ethiopia. Moreover, they sometimes contradicted that policy, for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Petersburg wanted in every way possible to avoid conflicts in Africa. (43)
It is necessary to take into account that A. X. Bulatovich despite his powers of observation, his quickness of mind, and his education was inclined to get carried away. He was an idealist, and therefore was very impractical. This side of his nature was more clearly revealed in his last and fourth journey to Ethiopia in 1910-1911 after he took monastic vows. Up until now almost nothing was known about this journey of his, aside from short references to it by A. X. Bulatovich himself. (44) Now it is possible to assemble some conception of it based on a verified report by B. Chemerzin published here about the dealings of Russia in Ethiopia. (45) Although it contains almost no information about the country, it provides details about the health of Menelik.
Unfortunately, the reports of A. X. Bulatovich came down to us not in their original form, but rather in copies made by P. M. Vlasov, who usually copied them not completely, but rather in part, and moreover in several different copies. Therefore, we have no confidence that all the reports were completely saved, and perhaps some were lost. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to verify this. We have to be satisfied with what has come to light.
Sending copies of the reports of A. X. Bulatovich to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, P. M. Vlasov sometimes included short comments, based on information that he had gathered. For instance, in excerpts from a letter of July 8, 1899 which he sent on August 26, 1899, Vlasov wrote, "The English at Famaka showed much less resoluteness and energy than the handful of French under the command of Major Marchand at Fashoda, yielding to the numerical superiority of the forces of Dajazmatch Demissew. The leader of the Anglo-Egyptian outpost in Fasokl hastened to go to the right bank of the Blue Nile before the presentation of a formal demand to clear out of that position, not protecting against the intentions of the Ethiopians. This English leader handed over to the Ethiopians the flag they had taken earlier and by this act almost officially acknowledged for England the right of the Ethiopians to ownership of Fasokl and the left bank of the Blue Nile." He further wrote "Concerning Famaka, the English did almost nothing serious regarding the spreading of their political influence to the southwest of this point." (46)
Nevertheless, Menelik, P. M. Vlasov, and A. X. Bulatovich did not labor under the delusion of the peace-loving show put on by the English, figuring that sooner or later they would resort to aggressive action. To a considerable degree, it became clear that their attention and strength were aimed at seizing the wealth of South Africa, above all the gold fields of Transvaal. They were actively preparing the provocation of war with the Boers which began October 11, 1899. (47)
Faithful to the policy of the Russian government, the aim of which was to not get entangled in African affairs (which, by the way, Menelik understood), P. M. Vlasov in sending to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a copy of a personal letter from Bulatovich to him from July 29, 1899, wrote to M. N. Muraviev that "at first glance might it might seem like he formed crazy and unrealizable plans relating to the far western border of Ethiopia based on his personal knowledge of the situation there." (48)
P. M. Vlasov also acknowledged that it was possible to convince the Emperor to accept A. X. Bulatovich's plans, regardless of how dubious they might seem. As for A. X. Bulatovich, the Russian ambassador wrote that he "to the degree that I have succeeded in getting to know him over the course of our brief time of service together, I am all the more confident in his courage, resoluteness, and perseverance, as well as his physical strength, mental ability and energy. And that is independent of the fact that he has so well mastered the Ethiopian language and so well knows the customs and ways of life of the Ethiopians, not balking at anything and not hesitating to put his knowledge and ability into action. He is in his own sphere. In view of what I stated above, if anyone was capable of coming up with this bold plan and of successfully carrying it out, he alone by his character and unique personal qualities is entirely up to the task." (49)
Having received the report of Bulatovich in which he explained the strategic importance of Beni-Shangul, Dula and Fasokl, P. M. Vlasov sent Menelik a memorandum in the Amharic language. Based on the information he had, the Emperor began to implement the recommendations he had been given by Bulatovich. Taking this into account, P. M. Vlasov wrote, "In case of the foreseen war between the English and Ethiopia, it is possible to say with confidence that the English are beginning their attack on Wollaga because this country is completely vulnerable to invasion and Joti's have no Abyssinian army or Abyssinian officials. Furthermore, Galla inhabitants of Joti's lands do not like the Abyssinians and would willingly go over to the side of the English.
"In view of what was explained above, the following is necessary:
1. To quickly occupy the mouth of the Gaba River at its confluence with the Baro River, even with a small detachment of Abyssinian warriors, such as 500 men.
2. To occupy the city of Gedame, capital of Wollaga. with a strong detachment of Abyssinian warriors. It is possible to transfer there 1500 men now stationed in Lekamte.
3. The city of Deseta, the residence of Dajazmatch Demissew, lies too far from the border of his domain. Hence it is necessary for him to move to the city of Nole-Koba, which is now occupied by 700 Tigreans, and to transfer those troops to the city of Lekamte.
"All these measures must be carried out before beginning talks with the English about demarcation."(50)
Menelik answered this forewarning on September 1: "I saw the letter you sent me: it is very good. Agreed. As soon as the rainy season ends, I will act as you have written."
On September 17, P. M. Vlasov was received by Menelik. Striving to be helpful to Ethiopia, Vlasov directed the Emperor's attention to the weakness of the defenses of the newly annexed lands in the west. The Emperor listened carefully, thanked him, and said that it necessarily followed from the position that had been created there "that he would order his forces there to not assess, for the present, any taxes or contributions from the Arabs and to grant them full self-government; to deal with them as comrades, politely, and as friends; and to vigilantly watch their actions." In addition, he issued an order to quickly strengthen border garrisons, because it would be very difficult to supply them. The strategic position of these regions was very clear to him, and he was aware of what he should do to retain those regions for Ethiopia, regardless of the encroachments of England. At the end of the meeting the Emperor expressed delight and amazement at the work of Staff-Rotmistr Bulatovich, at the fact that was inexhaustible, at his endurance and ability to cope with every kind of deprivation, and finally at his knowledge of his specialty, namely military affairs, as well as his extraordinary courage in the face of all the obstacles and dangers he might encounter.
And indeed, P. M. Vlasov adds, it is impossible not to notice that this officer in his latest mission as in his two previous ones, completely upheld, among the Abyssinians who dealt with him, the well-deserved reputation of a splendid dashing cavalryman − indefatigable, fearless, and selflessly dedicated to his mission. And that he thus demonstrated by his brilliant example not only to the Abyssinians, but also to all the Europeans who were there that an officer of the Russian school was capable of such deeds of selflessness." (52)
Recommending to Menelik that he quickly strengthen the western borders of Ethiopia, P. M. Vlasov advised him to not rush to resolve the question of the border with the Sudan, but rather to wait for England's proposal, while keeping armies on a status of war readiness in regions distant from their principal bases, which was far more difficult for Ethiopia. The English went from Metama to Hedaref and crossed to the right bank of the Blue Nile , (53) realizing, evidently, the Ethiopians' weakness in this region. It was true that the English strengthened the garrison in Nasyr on the Sobat River and, according to rumors, started fortification work there. It was probable that they wanted, as Bulatovich supposed, to advance from there to the River Baro in case of military action. (54)
A. X. Bulatovich returned to Addis Ababa on October 24, 1899. (55) He presented his impressions from his four-month journey in three letter-reports to Menelik. They were written with the firm conviction that war with England was imminent and unavoidable. Many others then were also so convinced, including P. M. Vlasov and Menelik. And even if these predictions did not turn out to be correct, to a significant extent because of the continuing war with the Boers, the English put up a stubborn opposition. (56) In these reports he draws attention to a short survey of events connected with the aggressive efforts of the English. A. X. Bulatovich notes the progressive improvements carried out in Ethiopia from the beginning of the Mahdist uprising, which closed down borders of Abyssinia on the west. "For 17 years many important events took place in Abyssinia which normally would have taken a thousand years." It is true that he was mistaken with regard to the aim of the English incursion into the Sudan. He underestimated the strategic significance of the Sudan. In fact, the Sudan was more important to the English than Ethiopia. If England were to unleash war against Ethiopia, an analysis of the situation would have to take into account the strength of Menelik and his military leaders. Equally, A. X. Bulatovich's proposed plan for reorganizing the army and the administrative management of the country made good sense. Carrying out those reforms would lead to the strengthening of the power of the emperor as well as the liquidation of many structures of feudalism and hence would significantly strengthen the position of Ethiopia and advance its progress.
A. X. Bulatovich composed these three letters at the request of Menelik, who wanted to know about the state of affairs on the western borders of his realm. (57) They were approved by Vlasov. As for the impression that these letters had on the Emperor, A. X. Bulatovich provides details of that himself, so it is not necessary to repeat it here.
Reporting to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that A. X. Bulatovich had returned to Addis Ababa, P. M. Vlasov assessed his achievements thus: "His latest mission ... clarified in detail the present situation at the far western border of Ethiopia, the future theater of military action in case of a clash between Ethiopia and England, from a legal perspective and also a military-strategic point of view, and also the state of affairs with regard to the people who inhabit the border lands ... in these very important ways, this mission should be recognized as completely successful and worthy of taking heed of. Likewise, it is very useful information ... especially for Emperor Menelik.
"In this mission, Bulatovich once again clearly demonstrated his ability to rapidly and skillfully orient himself, to adapt to the terrain and to the circumstances, as well as his rare tact in getting along with the Abyssinians and the local inhabitants ... he also showed, in the most praise-worthy form, his power of endurance and his courage. He never backed down in the face of any obstacle or danger, with the devotion of a Russian officer in the performance of his duty." (58) I unreservedly agree with this characterization.
One must also mention that in this expedition to western regions of Ethiopia which were little known by Europeans, A. X. Bulatovich also had scientific goals, gathering ethnographic materials and information about the geography of the lands that he passed through. Unfortunately, he did not succeed in putting into shape the data he gathered, and for a variety of reasons that data did not survive to our day, with the exception of mentions included in his reports, which are at times very valuable. Likewise important information about the 80 astronomical points that he measured between Addis Ababa and Fasokl did not survive. He apparently determined those with the aim of making maps.
The activities of A. X. Bulatovich as well as the appearance of the Russian mission in Ethiopia aroused the fixed and malevolent attention of the English, who continually followed his every step. In particular, they feared the strengthening of the influence of Russia in Addis Ababa, which enabled Menelik to more freely and confidently carry out his internal policy. This anxiety, turning into indignation, was clearly manifested in an anonymous article published in December 1898 in the periodical "Contemporary Review," (60) where there was talk of Franco-Russian agents inciting the Emperor to organize an expedition to seize part of the Nile Valley. With undisguised malice, the author wrote of a "plot" of France and Russia against England with the aim of preventing England from fulfilling its hope of creating an "Anglo-African Empire" and to draw England into a costly and bloody war with Ethiopia. The preventive measures of Menelik for protection of the interests of his country from the predatory aspirations of England were attributed to the "superhuman" efforts of P. M. Vlasov, "who understood diplomacy like the music of the spheres."
P. M. Vlasov's and A. X. Bulatovich's stay in Ethiopia came to an end. Bulatovich intended to return home by way of the Sudan, so he could, for the benefit of Menelik, familiarize himself with the situation that had developed there after the English suppressed the national-freedom movement of the Madhists. (63) But he wasn't able to do so. The English resident in Egypt − the virtual ruler of the country, Lord Cromer did not permit him to pass through his country supposedly because of the unstable situation. However, that wasn't the real reason. As was reported to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by the Russian general consul in Cairo T. S. Koyander, "The English representative in Abyssinia, Sir Harrington had long before indicated that Staff-Rotmister A. X. Bulatovich was very energetic and knowledgeable and that the English should beware of him." (64) As it turned out, under pressure from T. S. Koyander, who appealed the matter to Lord Cromer, the prohibition was rescinded, but happened too late. A. X. Bulatovich had already left by way of Jibuti. In May 1900 he was in Petersburg.
Once again he did not stay long. On June 23, 1900, by personal order of the Czar, A. X. Bulatovich set off for Port Arthur to be at the disposal of the military command of the Kwantung District to be attached to one of the cavalry or Cossack units operating in China. The reason for such an urgent posting is unknown. Apparently, that assignment and as well as whatever mental disorder impelled him to take monastic vows, prevented this hussar officer from publishing the material which he had gathered during his third journey to Ethiopia. As already mentioned, all the papers of A. X. Bulatovich were irretrievably lost. The archives only have the reports of P. M. Vlasov. As fresh impressions of events for which there were no impartial witnesses, these reports have permanent significance as a valuable primary source.
1. About the first two journeys of A. X. Bulatovich in Ethiopia see: Bulatovich, A. X., With the Armies of Menelik II, Moscow, 1971; Katsnelson, I.S., Terekhova, G. I. Through Unknown Lands of Ethiopia, Moscow, 1975.
2. News of the Russian Geographical Society, volume 35, 1899, issue 3, pages 259-283.
3. Account of the Russian Geographical Society for 1900, Saint Petersburg, 1900, page 36.
4. Archive of the external affairs of Russia (later − AVPR), Politarkiv, op. 482, document 2074, line 156.
5. Ibid., line 162.
6. Ibid., document 146, line 289.
7. Ibid., document 2072, lines 16-17 (from March 9 1899).
8. Ibid., lines 22-23.
9. Ibid., document 146, lines 289-298.
10 Ibid., line 298.
11. Ibid., lines 263-264 (report number 384 from May22, 1899).
12. Diplomatic History. Volume 2, Moscow, 1963, pages 421-441; Rotshteyn, F. A. International relations at the end of the nineteenth century, Moscow, Leningrad, 1960, pages 517-527.
13. The ruler of the Tigre region Ras Mangesha rose up against Menelik. The uprising was put down at the beginning of 1899.
14. Report Number 254 from November 1898, AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 144, lines 23-26.
15. Artamonov, L. K., Through Ethiopia to the Banks of the White Nile, Moscow, 1979.
16. Bulatovich, A. X. With the Armies of Menelik II, Moscow, 1971; Sanderson, G. N., Contributions from African Sources to the History of European Competition in the Upper Valley of Nile, Journal of African History, 1962, volume 3, Number 1, page 89.
17. Expedition of Myutliotar, Bonvalo, Bonchamps, Clochette (see report of P. M. Vlasov number 27, from December 31, 1897. AVPR, Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 140, lines 55-58). None of them went as far as the White Nile. Katsnelson, I. S., L. K. Artamonov and his journey to the White Nile. Artamonov, L. K. Through Ethiopia to the banks of the White Nile.
18. Documents diplomatiques français, 1 série, volume XIV, Paris, 1957, Number 55; Sanderson G. N. Foreign Policy of Negus Menelik. Journal of African History. 1964, volume 5, number 1, page 87.
19. Ibid., page 97.
20. Report number 265 from November 30, 1898. AVPR, Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 144, lines 61-64.
21. Report number 302 from January 9, 1899. Ibid. document 146., lines 28-29.
22. Artamonov, L. K., Through Ethiopia to the banks of the White Nile.
23. History of diplomacy. volume 2, page 437.
24. Report number 318 from February 12, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482., document 146, lines 77-79.
25. Report number 332 from February 28, 1899. Ibid., lines 118-119.
26. Report number 365 from April 11, 1899. Ibid., lines 202-203.
27. Report number 347 from March 12, 1899. Ibid., lines 163-164.
28. Report number 350 from March 12, 1899. Ibid., lines 169-170.
29. Report number 360 and 361 from March 28 and 30, 1899. Ibid. lines 186-187 and 189-190.
30. Report number 366 from April 11, 1899. Ibid., lines 205-207.
31. Report number 71 from April 29, 1899. Ibid., line 221.
32. Report number 375 from April 29, 1899. Ibid. lines 240-245.
33. Report number 389 from May 26, 189. Ibid., lines 270-272.
34. They began in September 1892. Sanderson, G. N. England, Europe, and the Upper Nile. Edinburgh, 1965, page 257.
35 Report number 390 from May 29, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482., document 146, lines 274-279.
36. Report number 392 from May 26 1899. Ibid., lines 283-284.
37. Report number 404 from June 12, 1899. Ibid., document 147, lines 11-17.
38. Ibid., document 145, lines 80-82.
39. Report number 416 and 417 from June 23, 1899. Ibid. lines 83-87.
40. Report number 492 from July 28, 1899. Tbid. lines 43-44.
41. Jesman, Cz. The Russians in Ethiopia. An Essay in Futility. London, 1958, page 150.
42. Katsnelson, I. S. Slave trade in Ethiopia at the end of the nineteenth century. (From an unpublished report of A. X. Bulatovich).. Basic problems of African studies. On the seventy-year ch.-kor. A. N. U.S.S.R D.A. Odepogge. Moscow, 1973, pares 263-272.
43. See Katsnelson, I. S. L. K. Artamonov and his journey to the While Nile.
44. Hieromonk Anthony (Bulatovich). My Struggle with the Name Fighters at Mount Athos. Petersburg, 1917, pages 10-11.
45. A. V. P. R. "Greek Table," document 678.
46. Report number 455 from Aguust 26, 1899. A. V. P. R. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 154-156.
47. Diplomatic History. volume 2, pages 462-466. P. M. Vlasov brought this to the attention of Menelik at a meeting with him. Report number 495 from August 30, 1899. A. V. P. R. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 167-174.
48. Report number 461 from August 30, 1899. A. V. P. R. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 184-185.
50. Ibid., lines 247-248.
51. Ibid., line 249.
52. Report number 482 from September 30, 1899. Ibid. lines 309-312.
53. Report number 481 from September 30, 1899. Ibid. lines 299-307.
54. Report number 483 from September 30, 1899. Ibid. lines 319-320.
55. Report number 503 from October 30, 1899. Ibid., document 148, line 16.
55. Report number 571 from January 12, 1900. Ibid. lines 55-59; report number 520 from November 29, 1899. Ibid. lines 81-83.
56. P. M. Vlasov reports that Menelik continues military preparation in case of a break of relations with England and strengthens his border army. However, he did not yet decide on initiating military action. Report number 530 from December 12, 1899. Ibid. lines 108-116.
57. Report number 572 from January 12, 1900. Ibid., document 150, lines 15-17.
58. Report number 503 from October 30, 1899. Ibid., lines 8-10.
59. Archive of the All-union Geographical Society (VGO), category 98, sn. 1, document 23.
60. France, Russia and the Nile. Contemporary Review. Volume 74, 1898, December, pages 761-778.
61. Ibid., page 775.
62. P. M. Vlasov left Addis Ababa with the doctors and the Cossack convoy on February 11, 1900. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 150.
63. Letter from A. X. Bulatovich to the head of the Asian section of the Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Protsenko (?) [The addressee is not indicated] from February 7, 1900. TsGVIA, f. 400, op. 261 (911, document 92), 1897, lines 8-10.
64. Report Number 9 from February 25, 1900. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 151, lines 15-16.
65. Report Number 15 from April 4, 1900. Ibid., line 17.
In accord with the imperial request of February 24 of this year placing me at the disposal of Your Excellency, I went from Saint Petersburg on March 10 to the place of my posting with dispatches to you and medicine for the medical unit of the mission (106 packages weighing 246 poods) [8856 pounds]. The steamship Tambov of the Dobrovolniy [Good Will] Fleet, on which I had intended to travel to Aden, was scheduled to leave Odesa on schedule on March 15, but was delayed for five days and only left on March 20. Our sea departure was unfortunate, in as much as that evening within sight of Odessa the Tambov struck a sandbank. Finally, on March 22, after an inspection of the underside of the ship, we for a second time set out to sea. On April 4, we arrived in Aden. On that same day, I set out from Aden to Zeila on a steamship of the Persian company "Kauadzhi and K" Falcoon (this company, with the three small steam ships it owns, maintains weekly postal communication among Aden, Berber and Zeila). With great difficulty, I managed to get on board that ship on time.
I had several boxes of cartridges, that I could only unload after receiving permission from the assistant governor of Aden. That was all the more difficult because the day was Sunday, a public holiday.
On April 5 at 12 noon I arrived in Zeila. The resident of Zeila, Lieutenant of the Indian Army Harold, received me very cordially and suggested that I stay at his house as it was the only available lodging in Zeila. I accepted his invitation, and for my servants and baggage I found another small house owned by an Arab merchant.
Zeila is an ancient little Somali city. Mentions of it are found in Portuguese sources in the fifteenth century. In the present day, Zeila has about 15,000 native inhabitants and several hundred newcomers − Arabs, Indians, Greeks. Consistent with that, the city is divided into two parts: the commercial quarter with dozens of small stone buildings and the native quarter consisting of an unbroken mass of thatched huts At 100 versts [66 miles] from Zeila there is another little Somali city, Berber.
These two cities have important trade significance, being the main ports, and up until not long ago, they were the only ports for Harar and southern Ethiopia. But aside from that, they are important as trade centers to which the entire five-hundred-thousand Somali population which is adjacent to them by necessity gravitates.
This gravitation arises for the following reasons.
Somali nomads, owning numerous herds of camels and cattle, need grain, not just to satisfy their need for food for themselves but also for their herds.
There is no cultivation in the country and grain can only be obtained on the border in exchange for cattle, hides, and above all in exchange for the help of servants in transporting goods from Berber and Zeila to the Abyssinian border.
All trade from these two ports into the country and back out goes on hired Somali camels, and there is not a Somali family that has not sent one of its members, if only for a year, to the coast.
When a Somali needs grain or clothing, he drives those of his camels that are suitable for carrying loads (from one to three of them) to Zeila or Berber and earn for each camel for the round trip -- for instance to Geldessa and back -- forty to fifty [thalers] and having bought grain and cloth, goes back to his native nomad encampment and waits until he needs to drive them once again to the banks of the sea. The English now occupy Berber and Zeila and from there influence all the nearby tribes. The English government distributes yearly subsidies to the leaders of the separate tribes, on the one side and on the other, the dependence of the nomadic population on the ports of Berber and Zeila ensures for the English easy and lasting dominion in the protectorate of the Somali shore that belongs to them.
The administration of the protectorate is organized very simply and conforms with the character of the people governed. The judicial and clerical work is notable for its simplicity. The leaders of the area are easily accessible natives, who listen in person to complaints and resolve misunderstandings.
The administration of the protectorate has a very small staff. Of all the personnel of the administration, there are only three Englishmen. All the rest are Indian. The protectorate is under the jurisdiction of the Foreign Office. Previously it was under the jurisdiction of Aden.
The head of the protectorate, Major Sadler, has the title of British Consul and is stationed permanently in Berber. Two residents in Zeila and Berber report to him.
The rest of the staff in Zeila is as follows:
the head of customs (an Indian)
a doctor (a Indian)
two clerks (both Indian)
one company (80 men) of Indian soldiers.
In addition, there are also native city, customs, and internal police forces. Called the "Jungle Police", this is one of the main weapons in the hands of the resident for control of the area under his jurisdiction. The internal police force consists of Somalis from various tribes, inhabitants of the English protectorate. They keep track of everything that takes place inside the country, and keep the resident informed about everything. Through them the resident passes his orders on to the leaders of the tribes.
Repressive measures of the resident in case of non-performance of his orders include cutting off subsidies to the tribal chief and not allowing him or his tribe admission to Zeila or another English port. The administration of the English Somali protectorate does not cost the English Exchequer a single kopek, since all expenses are covered by the customs receipts of Berber and Zeila, which amount to about 200,000 rubles ...
Zeila does not have military significance, because, on the first hand, the harbor is too shallow and disembarking a significant landing force would be very difficult here, and secondly the road from there to Harar, which is probably the most likely object of military operations, is in places rocky and hard to pass due to the dryness of the land.
Berber, on the other hand, has an excellent harbor, and the road from there to Harar could easily be made passible for artillery and wheeled transport. In case of war with Abyssinia, Berber will probably be a base of English operations against Harar, and with this aim already now preparatory work is already underway. They are building a road for wheeled vehicles to Harar. An eighty-man unit of Indian soldiers, an advanced detachment of border guards from Harges, which is just a three-day trip from Harar, is working on that.
During my stay in Zeila, I quickly set about choosing camels for my caravan. This was was not an easy task. I succeeded in part thanks to the help of the resident of Zeila, who with his influence paralyzed the underhanded machinations of the merchants. The merchants, who were hard up for camels, raised the prices, spreading the rumor that my boxes were too heavy and difficult to load.
When I arrived in Zeila, I found very few camels, because of the departure, a short while before my arrival, of a huge caravan of 1000 camels, loaded with Berdan rifles and cartridges, highly wanted by Emperor Menelik. The rifles and cartridges were at first delivered to Jibuti. But Ato Iosef, whom Emperor Menelik had put in charge of conveying them to Abyssinia, could not find enough camels in Jibuti. So, with the help of Somalis from the French protectorate, he sent the rifles and cartridges by boat to Zeila and from there to Geldessa.
In Zeila I found an agent of Ato Ioseph who was gathering camels for a new caravan, and almost weekly boats came from Jibuti loaded with rifles. The English resident of Zeila not only didn't hinder this transport, which he could easily have done, if not directly, then indirectly, but judging by what I saw, he helped speed the dispatch of the rifles, which very much surprised me given the present strained relations between England and Abyssinia.
The unrest in the Somali steppes along the road from Jibuti to Harar and the impossibility of obtaining camels in Jibuti were the cause of my having chosen Zeila as the starting point for my caravan.
The revolt of the Somali tribes against the French protectorate, as is well known by Your Excellency, was caused by the construction of the railroad. Starting the railroad construction, the administration not only did not try to get the agreement of the natives through whose land the railway had to go, but they also did not take any measures to minimize the dangers of constructing the line in case of open opposition from the Somalis. The administration of the protectorate also was, apparently, completely unprepared for the consequences. The sad consequence of this lack of foresight is well known to Your Excellency. The Somali tribes of Issa rebelled and with continual attacks on the railroad workers stopped the work. The workers ran from the work sites, many of them returning to their homeland (many of them were Italian). Not satisfied with that, the Somalis stopped caravans and also cut off the postal connection between Jibuti and Geldessa. The daring of Somalis went to the point of their even posing a threat to the city of Jibuti itself and, for a while, holding its population in a panicked state. The administration lost its head. The population of Jibuti armed itself and prepared for self-defense. Some individuals who were bolder and more daring decided that it was necessary for them to, in their turn, attack the Somalis. They began to raid and attack nomad encampments and to drive away their livestock. At the head of these undertakings was a certain Russian named Mr. Emiter. Tthe family name, they say, is fabricated). He was serving in the capacity of an engineer on the railway.
Unfortunately, these undertakings were pointless, vicious, and unfair, such that the victims of it were peaceful Somalis, old men, children, and women, who were not taking part directly in the rebellion. In one of his attacks, Emiter crossed the Anglo-French border and at dawn fell upon a nomad encampment within sight of an English border post. Several Somali men and women were killed, and two were wounded -- an old man and a twelve-year-old boy. They cut off the old man's leg. Both of the wounded are recovering. I saw them in person. Emiter drove off livestock and returned to Jibuti. On request of the resident of Zeila he answered (according to the resident) with the following message: "Surprised by the Somalis, we are obliged to defend ourselves."
The administration of Jibuti took full responsibility for the breach of the border, and Harold not being satisfied with the apologies sent to him by several inhabitants of Jibuti reported this incident to his government.
For the two weeks before I arrived in Jibuti, a company of marines kept watch in the city and in Rambula. The presence of these soldiers calmed down the populace. From the post in Rambula, in the first days of their presence, three men deserted, running to Zeila, exposing themselves to serious risk of being murdered on the road.
After them several citizens of Jibuti arrived in Zeila. These were private persons, such as M. Karet. They requested that the resident extradite the deserters. The resident gave M. Karet permission to take those deserters who willingly wanted to return. Only one of them agreed to go back. Two stayed in Zeila, and I saw them in person. They said that the reason that drove them to desert was bad food and the severity of their platoon commander.
On the second day after my arrival in Zeila, I set out for Jibuti in order to receive letters which could have been addressed there in my name by Your Excellency and could include orders from you. Such was not the case, so I returned to Zeila the following day. The distance from Jibuti to Zeila is about 30 nautical miles. I went by way of a native sailboat. The trip to Jibubit took five hours with a favorable wind, and the return trip took twelve hours because of a dead swell. For more than five hours we rolled on the same spot.
I found the city of Jibuti very animated and significantly more developed than Zeila. The agitation of the Somalis had quieted down, and talks had started (Mr. Shefne, a private person, initiated these talks and led them). Work on the railway was reviving little by little.
On April 10, my first caravan left Zeila and I dispatched with it 55 boxes of medicine and some of my personal things. On April 13, I left Zeila with a small caravan of six camels. On April 16, the rest of the medicine and a large part of my things left Zeila. Part of my personal things (80 Berdan rifles and cartridges for them) stayed behind in Zeila because there were not enough camels to carry them. They would be sent after me.
The road from Zeila to Harar was very peaceful, in spite of the fact that it lay in the neighborhood of rebellious Issa tribes, who were just 30-40 versts (19-26 miles) from the Jibuti-to-Harar road. Therefore, I made do with a very limited escort. With the first and last caravans, I sent two Somalis each, tasked with watching the cargo and responsible in case of loss. Two Somalis and four Abyssinian servants went with me.
On the way to bivouac, natives often came up and questioned the caravan workers suspiciously. They calmed down on learning that I was a "Muscovite" and that I was coming from Zeila.
On April 21, I arrived at the Abyssinian border city of Gildessa, having outdistanced my first caravan. There I changed Somali camels for Galla donkeys and that same day went further. I stopped for the night at Belaya, where I met Marchand's(2) mission, which the day before had left Harar. I made the acquaintance of the officers. They welcomed me very warmly and cordially. They invited me to dinner, and at dinner made several cries of "Urah!" toasting His Majesty the Emperor and Russia. This was proposed by a senior officer, Captain Germain. (Marchand and Faratye were absent, having been summoned to Harar for a telephone call.) On the following day, I parted with this detachment which had made such a remarkable impression on me for its discipline, solidarity, and camaraderie among officers.
In conversation with the officers, I was able to conclude that they were dead set against Lagarde, describing him as largely responsible for their failure at Fashoda, which perhaps, would not have happened if Lagarde had known how to organize his expedition from Abyssinia which was supposed to meet them, as had earlier been supposed. Now due to the strained relations between England and Abyssinia and the possibility of war between them, all the officers agreed to stay in Abyssinia, but Lagarde for the present put an end to that proposal ...
From his first words, Marchand vividly and heatedly talked about the relationship between England and Abyssinia and the inevitable conflict between the two. Marchand is deeply convinced that in no more than 15 months, and namely at the time of the Paris World Fair, England will attack Abyssinia from all sides. English officers in Egypt told him as much, saying that England would never have peace in the Sudan so long as a militant and powerful Abyssinia was on its flank.
According to Marchand, the English have organized a twenty-five thousand strong force from captured dervishes and was especially intended for war against Abyssinia. Marchand saw such dervishes march to drums in Khartoum. The allegation that dervishes captured at the Battle of Omdurman were slaughtered was false. Kitchener willingly let himself be charged with an atrocity in order to hide such an important increase in his forces.
Marchand explained the danger of the situation to Emperor Menelik in his meeting with him. Hearing these words Menelik was so horrified that he leapt up from his throne and said, "If that was so, I would shoot myself!"
Marchand offered Emperor Menelik his personal service and effort to get France to help him. hearing these words, I asked Marchand, " What did Menelik answer you to that?" "Send me more guns and ammunition!" Abyssinia is France's last position in the struggle for predominance in Africa. Therefore, France should not allow the defeat of Abyssinia, but rather should support it as much as it can. The interests of Russia in Africa also should involve supporting Abyssinia in the upcoming conflict.
At these words, I interrupted Marchand and asked if he understood that Russia has no interests in Africa other than, so to say, a passive one, negative by nature. Our concern for Abyssinia is an expression of the traditional sympathy of our sovereign and of Russia for weak and oppressed Christians.
"If Russia up until now has not had direct interests in Africa, such interests will soon appear," said Marchand. Such, in his opinion, would begin with the question of the unification of our churches − Orthodox and Abyssinian − and the question of the acquisition of a port on the main water way to the East. Both these possibilities could easily come to fruition and both would have great importance for Russia. In addition, these interests do not go counter to the policy of France. France could only sympathize with the aim of acquiring such a port. Marchand spoke passionately, pressing, evidently, for these questions to have greater importance for Russia. He got carried away and continued to develop this thought. Therefore I interrupted Marchand and answered him that I, of course, do not know the opinion of our government on this matter; but that as for me, I think that Russia not only does not have, but also should not have vital, direct interest in Africa. ...
These words greatly cooled off Marchand and, evidently, struck him, such that he, stammering somewhat, answered with the following: "Ah! Yes. Perhaps I also think that Africa isn't of great importance," but that nevertheless France must take interest in Africa and now particularly in Abyssinia, since there the Egyptian question must be resolved.
(From this thought, expressed finally with complete sincerity by Marchand and which, it may very well be, in the very near future will be the basis for French policy in Abyssinia, logically it follows that if England does not in fact undertake aggressive action against Abyssinia, then French would try to provoke Abyssinia to attack English Sudan and perhaps Egypt.)
On the evening of April 22, I arrived at Harar. Gerazmatch Banti, governor of Harar, sent several dozen soldiers to meet me, invited me to his home, and laid out a large durgo of bread, mead, and mutton. My old Abyssinian friends came to heartily welcome me.
On April 25 the first caravan with the medicine arrived in Gildessa, and on April 26 I set out to Gildessa in order to expedite the delivery of the medicine to Harar, at the same time getting Ato Marshe to sign for it. On April 27 I returned to Harar and on the 29th I sent Private Kapnin (assigned to me from the Life Guard Hussar Regiment) to Addis Ababa with dispatches to speed their delivery to Your Excellency, since I was obliged to stay in Harar until the arrival in Gildessa of the second caravan with medicine. Eight Abyssinians accompanied Kapnin, and I sent part of my baggage with him, on nine pack mules.
Kapnin successfully carried out the mission assigned to him despite the fact that he did not know the local conditions or the language, and on May 12 he delivered the dispatches to Your Excellency.
I stayed in Harar until May 10 in expectation of the arrival of the second caravan with medicines. It had been delayed in the Somali steppes by heavy rain. On the evening of May 9, I received news of the arrival of the caravan at Gildessa, and, on the morning of May 10, I hurried to leave for Addis Ababa ...
In a letter of mine to Your Excellency on May 2, I stated my intention to use all my powers to keep to the schedule of leaving on that day; and because of that I took appropriate measures. To Kuni (175 versts [116 miles]) from Harar I sent two mules and 20 Abyssinians that would serve as replacements, and from Addis Ababa I ordered that two horses be sent to Chabo (150 versts [99 miles] from Addis Ababa).
I didn't receive what I needed to get going until May 10. Only four days remained before May 14, and I could not hope in that time to cover the 500 versts [331 miles] from Harar to Addis Ababa over a road that was difficult, mountainous, and in places washed away by rain. I left Harar at dawn on May 10. With me were two saddle mules and one Abyssinian. On the saddles were a felt cloak, a mess kit, a small supply of rations, cartridges, and some barley for the mules. The governor of Harar, Gerazmatch Banti accompanied me to the gates of the city. By sunset, I went 100 versts [66 miles] and climbed Mount Gurez, but with the onset of darkness I lost my way in the thick forest which covered the mountain and having wandered until ten o'clock at night finally came out again on the main road at the same spot where we had left it four hours before. At dawn of the following day I set out again. the road was very difficult and at nine o'clock in the morning one of the mules refused to go any farther, and the other mule only roused itself if I walked behind it and urged it on. I had to leave the first mule together with the ashker (servant). I continued on my way, going more than 50 versts [33 miles] crossing from one mountain ridge to another (Burka, Khirka, two mountain ridges Dbaso, Shola). At one o'clock in the morning, I drove the mule into Kuna. Here fresh mules were waiting for me, and I quickly set out further with two mules and one ashker (servant).
On May 12 at midnight, I forded the Awash River and stopped on the other side. My mules were exhausted, and I felt that they couldn't go further if I didn't get hay for them. There was almost no grass near the Awash. The terrain was very rocky. Noticing an Abyssinian camp, I walked to it and appealed to the first person I came upon, asking him to sell me hay. Having seen a foreigner, accompanied by only one servant and our two mules which we led by rein, the Abyssinians thought I was one of those European adventurers that Harar is full of these days and who by far do not treat the local people respectfully. He therefore met me very unsympathetically.
Nevertheless, the owner of the camp ordered that I be given an armful of hay, and I, satisfied with that, began to settle down in one of the rows of this camp. My neighbors started a conversation with my servant and, learning that I am a Russian officer, they let the owner know that and he immediately bowed low and invited me to his tent, treated me and my servant as best he could, sent barley for my mules, and finally insisted that I sleep in his tent. I categorically declined that, fearing that I would oversleep on his oxhide. It turned out that my gracious host, Gerazmatch Ualzhyu, is one of the officers of Ras Makonnen(3), and he was on his way to his superior in Tigre. At 3:30 in the morning I started out again. The barley strengthened the mules and they, without any special urging, went forward.
By noon, one mule had to stop on the outskirts of Tadega Melka, and I on the second mule arrived at Chobo at sunset. There I awaited fresh horses. I quickly set out again and covering about 150 versts [99 miles] in 17 hours, I arrived on May 14 at 11:20 in Addis Ababa. The entire trip took me 101 hours. That included 19 hours of stopovers and 8-9 hours of sleep. The distance from Harar to Addis Ababa is more than 500 versts [331 miles], and I was on the move for 82 hours.
I left medicines in Harar under the signature of Ato Marshe. The first part -- 55 pieces -- is now on its way to Addis Ababa and should arrive by June 15. The second part is in Harar and will be sent in a few days.
My personal belongings, which did not go with the first caravan, are coming after me on 12 pack mules. Part of them -- the rifles and cartridges -- are now on the road to Harar.
Today, July 8, I set out from the city of Deseta, the residence of Dajazmatch Demissew (5). So far, thank God, everything is fine. My people are healthy and the animals as well, except for two exhausted mules, which we had to leave on the road. You can't imagine the difficulties entailed by several climbs and descents in the mountains of Chelea by steep, slippery, clay slopes and likewise fording swampy streams in the valleys of the Gibye and Awash Rivers.
In Chelea we were warmly received in the city of Tsareylu or Gedo by the headman of the region Dajazmatch Gesesa(6), a nephew of the Empress Taitu. Crossing the Gibye River I entered the realm of Dajazmatch Demissew. On June 6, I entered the city of Deseta, accompanied by an honorary convoy of 500 men with trumpeters and flautists. Demissew came to me from the gates of his home and greeted me with the greatest joy and hospitality. One of the first questions which he asked me was, of course about the position of England its intentions. The conversation continued through dinner, which was attended by all the senior officers, and I used the occasion to as much as possible clarify for the Abyssinians the danger from the English which threatens them. The Dadyasmyach and officers listened with great interest. Moreover, they interrupted my speech with exclamations of approval.
I tried to explain to the Abyssinians that now the enmity of the English was not as dangerous as their friendship. I compared the behavior of England in relationship to Abyssinia with the behavior of a hunter sneaking up on an elephant to get a sure rifle shot.
The Dajazmatch and his soldiers foresee that a fight with the English is inevitable and are firm in that conviction. The Dajazmatch recognizes that the main route of the English offensive in case of war with the Abyssinians lies through his realm. He realizes as well that the local Galla population cannot be relied upon in case of war wiht the English and that all the Gallas on the left bank of the Didessa River will join the English, not to speak of the recently conquered Arab tribes of Beni-Shangul. Many chiefs of those tribes have already fled to the English.
In Deseta, I got acquainted with Abdurrakhman and Mohamed(7), who are there under surveillance as honored prisoners of the Dajazmatch. Both are pure Sudanese by type. They are happy and apparently completely reconciled with their fate. When I started to ask them about their lands, they answered that their lands no longer exist, that everything has been obliterated and "turned to grass."
Dajazmatch Demissew fully assists me. Under his orders, for the whole path ahead provisions will be delivered, and he gave me a detail of 36 porters to help my mules. One of the most trusted of his officers was assigned to accompany me to the border of Beni-Shangul, and I was also given letters to all the heads of the Abyssinian garrisons located in Beni-Shangul.
Dajazmatch Demissew just got back from a trip to Dula and Fasokl.
As is probably known by your Excellency, the Dadyasmch collided with the English in Fasokl, where they had taken the flag that the Abyssinians had earlier erected there and had replaced it with one of their own. Dajazmatch Demissew pushed back the Anglo-Egyptian detachment to the right bank of the Abay (the Blue Nile) and forced them to once again erect the Abyssinian flag in its previous place.
According to the Dajazmatch, this happened as follows.
In the fall of 1898 Dajazmatch Demissew crossed his western border with about 40,000 soldiers with 10,000 rifles. Abdurrakhman, the ruler of Beni-Shangul, and Mohamed, the ruler of Dula, at that time were already in the hands of the Abyssinians and went along with the detachment. In August 1898, the Dajazmatch sent an insignificantly small detachment to Fasokl to erect the Abyssinian flag there, and they did that. In January 1899, the army of the Dajazmatch passed through Dula and here, completely unexpected, arrived the news that the English were in Fasokl and that they had taken the Abyssinian flag. In Dula, the Dajazmatch received a letter, signed by "Commander of Fasokl," in which this "Commander," having learned of the arrival of Abyssinians in Dula, attested that with a detachment of Anglo-Egyptian troops he had taken Fasokl, and that the aim of this action was to strengthen lawfulness in the country, to open the way for trade, and to put an end to slavery. The Dajazmatch answers the "Commander with a polite letter. He said nothing about the taking of the flag. After this, he advanced with his entire army on Fasokl. This aroused great disquiet in Fasokl. Then the "Commander" wrote the Dajazmatch a second letter in which he expressed his bewilderment about the reasons for the Dajazmatch moving such a large army to Fasokl and advisef the Dadyasmach that if he had peaceful intentions, he should leave his army behind and come to Fasokl with a small convoy. Dajazmatch Demissew answered evasively that it was counter to the customs of the Abyssinians for a leader of a detachment to separate himself from his soldiers, and he assured the English of his friendly intentions. On February 9, the Dajazmatch arrived in Fasokl. On the arrival of the Abyssinians, the English abandoned Fasokl, forded the Abay (Blue Nile), and fortified themselves in Famaka. On February 11, the leaders of the two detachments met. For this, the Commander of Fasokl forded the Abay and the Dajazmatch went to meet him with a small convoy. The Dajazmatch demanded an explanation for why the English had taken the Abyssinian flag and demanded that it be restored by those who took it. "If your assurance of friendship is true, then tomorrow put the flag back where it was. Otherwise prepare for battle and wait for me." The English accepted this ultimatum, saying that for such trifles as flags, they did not want to quarrel, and they promised to quickly restore it to its former place, but in turn they demanded of the Dajazmatch a pledge to not cross to the right bank of the Abay. The Dajazmatch agreed to this condition and vowed "by the God of Menelik" to abide by it. (This pledge meant nothing to the Dajazmatch since the right bank of the Abay belongs to the rulers of Gojjam.). On February 12, the English erected the Abyssinian flag at its former place. On February 13, the Dajazmatch moved his entire army to the right bank of the Abay and saluted the Abyssinian flag with a salvo. On February 14, the English crossed to the left bank of the Abay with a mitrailleuse [a type of volley gun with barrels of rifle caliber that can fire either rounds at once or in rapid succession] and in turn saluted the Ethiopian flag. After that, they were invited to the Abyssinian camp. The Dajazmatch sent them as an honorary convoy his entire cavalry -- five or six thousand men (the greater part of whom were Galla horsemen from Leka and Wollaga). The rest of the army formed up as a reserve column in front of the camp. Having shown his adversary his army, the Dajazmatch invited them to dinner and gave them gifts (several gold shields). They parted with the English as friends. The Dajazmatch responded to the head of the Anglo-Egyptian detachment very well. It is said that he is a very good and polite old man. His name (probably garbled by the Abyssinians) is Nepsu Bek Aldjunt. On his departure from Abyssinia, he was replaced by Anter-Pasha. As soon as Anter-Pasha took over the governance of that new region, he quickly informed the Dajazmatch of that with a cordial letter, in which he expressed his desire to maintain with him as friendly a relationship as his predecessor.
The official title of Anter-Pasha is Commander of Famaka.
I report to your Excellency that on July 23, 1899 I safely arrived a Gedame, the main city of the Wollaga province of Dajazmatch Joti (10). On July 26 I am in Chelem and hope to cross the border of Galla lands and go into the negro and Arab lands of Sheikh Ogliye. We are all healthy. Rain falls daily, but the road isn't particularly difficult. We were delayed by several river crossings -- the Didessa, Dobana, Messa, and Birbir. Cargo and men crossed by boat, and the livestock was driven as a herd. I was very surprised that until this time the Galla had not used this method of driving livestock as a herd to cross rivers. They drive livestock across rivers in pairs, themselves sitting in boats.
It took us 14 days to go from Deseta to the city of Gedame. That included two day's rest. The distance is 250-300 versts [166-199 miles]. This relatively slow movement was necessitated by the fact that most of the cargo was carried by porters detailed to me by the Dadyasmach. Demissew. Every day many of the porters were changed and assembling them lost lots of time.
The whole way to Wollaga, I was met very cheerfully by the inhabitants. At each bivouac, durgo (11) was supplied, including mutton, chicken, eggs, mead, bread. The Gallas of Wollaga met me with much less enthusiasm, and at two bivouacs my boys went hungry. To me personally as a foreigner, the Gallas were friendly, but they were not over fond of my servants who were Abyssinians, and I had to endure several anxious days. Both the Gallas and my ashkers(12) were in such an irritable mood that each quarrel threated to end in bloodshed. So, for instance, on July 25 one of my kitchen helpers got into an argument with a native girl about water. She screamed. Galla women and men fell upon my ashker and started to beat him with sticks. My boys rushed to help him. Hearing the cries of those who were fighting, Gallas armed with spears and rifles came running. My boys at the sight of spears took out swords. By chance, I arrived in time at the site of the fight and chased away the combatants. The fact that I was completely unarmed helped to calm the Gallas as well as my soldiers. On July 26, in a heavily populated area, a grazing Galla horse attached itself to my horses. The owner of the horse cried out, "Sidamas [Abyssinians] stole my horse!" Gallas ran from all directions, armed with spears, and if at this minute the man in charge of my ashkers had not kept his composure, this incident, for sure, would have ended in combat.
Starting from the city of Deseta I began to produce a map of our route with astronomical observations. This, however, was very difficult because of cloudy weather and rain.
The territory we covered from the Didessa River to the city of Gedame is part of the basin of the Dobana, Birbir and Dabus Rivers. The watershed between Didessa and Dobana Rivers is the Buno and Dabo mountains. The line of the mountain ridge rises 1000 meters above the course of the Didessa River. The slope is medium steep. Tributaries of the Dobana River, which are very numerous, flow in narrow and deep valleys. The watershed of the Birbir and the Dobana is the massif Tulu-Zhirgo. The peak of the Tulu-Zhirgo mountians is 3000 meters high. The northern and southern slopes of these mountains are steep, and many tributaries of the Dobana River flow in narrow, deep, valleys, hidden by trees. The western slopes are gentle.
The watershed of the Blue Nile, the Birbir and the Dobana consists of the mountains Sibu and Liki which stretch the length of the Abay river, and are rocky and difficult to cross.
The watershed of the Dabus, Baro and Birbir Rivers is the massif Tulu-Walel, which unites the mountain range, which is not high and therefore is easy to cross, with the mountains of Sibu. The line of the mountain ridge rises about 500 to 600 meters above the course of the Birbir River. The peak of Tulu-Walel is 3000 meters above sea level.
1. Dabo. The population is Oromo Galla, 3000 to 4000 serf families. The chief of the region is Kanyazmatch (13) Kalech, the former commander of one of the regiments of neftanya (infantry). His regiment has been taken away, and Dabo was given to him for his sustenance as well as that of the commanders of two regiments of gondars (imperials) and a few officers. Kanyazmatch Kalech has 120 soldiers of his own and as many guns. The administrative structure is as follows: the region is divided into several sectors, the native inhabitants of which are under the command of Aba-Koro, a rich and free Galla, who, as is usual, is descended from a tribal chief or a Galla prince. The Abyssinians only associate with such persons and by way of them rule the land. Aba-Koro is responsible to the Abyssinian rulers for all disorders that take place in his sector. The usual punishment in such instances is a monetary fine and confiscation of property. Aba-Koro values his possessions and very zealously serves the Abyssinians.
2. Khanno. The chief of this region, Fitaurari(14) Meshesh Kassa, commands four regiments of gondars of the Emperor. Khonno was given to him and to several of his officers for their sustenance. The territory includes 3000 to 4000 families of serfs. The four regiments, consisting of 1200 men each, are stationed in Lekamti. They receive a monthly ration -- a private gets three to four dauls (15) of grain and 1 thaler of salt -- and a salary of three to sex thalers per year. The grain is obtained in Lene in Wollaga. The Emperor sends the money.
3. Kharu. The chief of this region, Kanyazmatch Emmanuel, is the commander of a regiment ofneftanya of 300 men. He and his regiment live off this region. The territory includes 6000 serf families.
4. Nole-Koba. The chief of this region, Fitaurari Haylu, commands two regiments (700 rifles) of neftanya Tigreans. He gets sustenance for himself and his people from this region. However, those provisions do not suffice, and Emperor Menelik pays the rest in money. There are 6000 serf families. At the top of the mountain ridge, ten versts [6 miles] north of the peak of Tulu-Zhirgo, is located the main city of this region -- Nole-Koba. This is a very strong defensive-offensive position and an important strategic point, commanding the entire valley of the Birbir River which lies near to it, as well as the two main roads from Deseta to Wollaga.
5. Lalo-Kaki. On the right bank of the Birbir River. The chief of the region, Fitaurari Getanel, commands a regiment of neftanya (350 rifles). He and part of his regiment of his regiment are sustained by this region. 20 men occupy a post on the boundary of Wollaga and negro lands. 140 men are stationed in Lekamti. There are 1500-2000 families of serfs.
To the south of the regions just enumerated, along the Gaba River lie the regions:
Buno, part of which belongs to Dajazmatch Tesemma and part to Dajazmatch Demissew. Fitaurari Wolde-Rogay, the commander of a neftanya regiment reports to Dajazmatch Demissew.
Darimu and Dorenni. The chief is Wagshum Kobeda, with about 2000 rifles.
Abeko, Siba and Bonaya were formerly the regions of Fitaurari Hagau, who was killed in the last campaign. His regiment of neftanya, 300 rifles, is stationed there.
All the above enumerated lands are sparsely populated. There is almost no livestock. Crops are insignificant. Significant numbers of inhabitants were lost in the yearly campaigns, which they were also obliged to accompany as porters. The administrative structure is very much the same as that which I described in the region of Dabo. All the native population is obliged to provide:
1. Quit-rent of one tenth of the harvest, the so-called asrat, which goes toward the formation of bread reserves in case of famine or war. In the region of Haru in the current year, 1000 doula of asrat was collected.
2. An indeterminate quitrent that depends on the wealth of each serf. This quitrent goes for the benefit of the lowest of the serfs.
3. Unpaid labor [corvee] for the benefit of the chief of the region and of persons for whom a serf is obliged to work. This unpaid labor is called hudad. Out of seven days they work three for themselves and two for the owner. Thursday and Sunday are days off.
I consider it my duty to note that calling this semi-free status of conquered Gallas "serfs" is not completely accurate. A Galla is obliged to provide labor and taxes but is not tied to the land. By order of Dajazmatch Demissew, each Galla is free to move about within the boundaries of the domain of the Dajazmatch to any region or sector. This law limits, to some degree, abuse of Gallas, but on the other hand it leads to many abuses by them. There is a customary law by which those who move do not have to pay quit-rend for the following year. Gallas take advantage this law and every year move from place to place. Of course, it is the poor, without livestock, who do this.
All these regions are very fertile. They are rich in every advantage and in the future will be the wealthiest regions of Ethiopia. Because of this, it is all the more probable that the Galla population will grow very quickly. In each family I see more children. A great number of the Gallas buy wives, at a cost of 1 to 40 thalers. They profess their primitive faith. Apparently, Christianity has not penetrated to the west of the Dobana River. To the north of the regions of Dbo, Haru, and Nole-Koba are found the mountainous regions of Sibu, Nadzho and Mandi which belong to Dajazmatch Gabro-Egziabeer. Troops are not stationed in these regions. The inhabitants pay taxes in money which are collected by Dajazmatch Garo-Egziabeer. Gold is mined in the mounts of Sibu. The engineer Campbell works in the region of Hedzho.
The domain of Dayazmach Gabro-Egziabeer extends to the lower reaches of the Dabus River. To the south of it and to the west of the Birbir River begins the autonomous domain of Dajazmatch Joti.
Dajazmatch Joti, Dajazmatch Gabro-Egziabeer, and Negus Aba-Dzhafar were the only Galla rulers who voluntarily acknowledged the power of the emperor of Ethiopia. Because of this, they retained their conditional independence and pay tribute. Dajazmatch Joti pays tribute in gold and elephant tusks. He obtains the gold from his subject Gallas, and the tusks from his subject negro tribes.
The domain of Joti is very extensive, stretching from the Birbir River to Arab lands and from the Baro River almost to the Abay River. In this entire expanse, there is not a single Abyssinian soldier or official. The territory is governed by relatives of Joti, who elevated them Abyssinian ranks.
1. The Ayra region, the chief of which is Gerazmatch (16) Dosa.
2. Dale, with 3000 serf families, and
3. Chelem, with 10,000-15,000 serf families, both under Fitaurari Ashana-Dale
4. Sayo and
5. Leka, both under Aba Chela.
6. Arodzho and
7. Adzedzha, both under Fitaurari Aba-Sobir
9. Das, under Balambaras (17) Nuro.
10. Lalo, under Kanyazmatch Joti.
11. Gedame and the adjacent regions under the direct authority of Dajazmatch Joti, consists of 20,000 serf families.
The regions of Gedame and Chelem are very densely populated. Some areas were conquered by Joti's ancestors. The rest were conquered by Joti himself or annexed to his domain by Ras Gobana (18) the military leader of Emperor Menelik who conquered the majority of Galla lands.
The Galla population of these areas is divided into a higher and a lower class. The aristocracy owns land and is free. The lower class consists of serfs. Both pay an annual tax in gold, which goes toward the payment of tribute. The tax rates are: for those having four slaves half a uket which equals 18 thalers; eight slaves a full uket, etc. Those having less than four slaves pay, based on their status, from one salt up to 5 thalers. Gold is mined in Arab lands and is brought to Wollaga where it is traded at bazaars for bread and livestock. The annual collection of gold comes to from 7000 to 8000 ukets which equals 300,000 thalers. The Emperor's share of this sum comes to 60,000 to 100,000 thalers. The balance of the money goes in part to Joti and in part to bribe the courtiers of the Emperor.
The negro tribes -- Yambo-Baro, Komo, Abigar, Dinta and others -- pay Joti tribute in the form of elephant tusks and slaves. They are managed by their princes, who also collect slaves from the population. The Yambo-Baro negroes live along the course of the Birbir and the Baro Rivers, and at the mouth of the Birbir. Boteggo (19) passed through their lands. Abigar negroes, who call themselves "Niyam," live at the mouth of the Juba River where it falls into the Sobat River. Their King Jeng owns both the right and the left banks of the Sobat River. In Gedame there were two men from Abigar who I interrogated. They informed me of the following: King Jeng has been paying tribute to Joti for a long time. From Gedame to Abigar is a fourteen-day journey. In former times there were Turks in these lands. They went away fifteen years ago. Three years ago, foreigners entered Abigar from the land of Tesemma (Bonchamps) (20) He offended the Abigars, then went to Nasyr. Then God punished him with an eye disease (?), and he went back. Last year Dajazmatch Tesemma came to the left bank of the Juba River with a large army. He succeeded in swimming across to the right bank. The Abyssinians took women and children. They took up a position in Nasyr, raised a flag, and started negotiations. One Abigar swam to the left bank. They told him that they came not to pillage but to take possession of this land. They returned prisoners. (My informer did not know of the presence of Europeans in Tesemma's detachment). From Abigar, Tesemma went to a large river, and having raised a flag went back by a different route. Turks looked through binoculars. (The negro used an expression meaning "two fists to the eyes"). They saw the flag, went to it by boat, took the flag, and sent it to Tesemma, saying, "You can reign in your own land, and we will reign here." They disembarked in Nasyr. They fortified their position, surrounded themselves with a large fence, and constructed four large buildings. I asked, "What are they doing?" They answered, "They aren't doing anything. They are staying put peacefully." Question: "What do they eat?" Answer: "What they brought with them." Question: "Do they sell or buy anything?" Answer: "No. We are afraid to go to them. We don't sell them bread. We ourselves are hungry. We eat fish." Question: "Since Jeng rules on both the right and left banks, to whom does he submit?" "He submits to Joti. The Turks don't require anything of him."
The Abigar who I questioned left for Nasyr only a few days later.
In Wollaga the slave trade flourishes, which, of course, the neighboring negro tribes support. Slaves are openly sold at bazaars, side-by-side with goats. The average price for a slave is fifteen to twenty thalers. There are special slave-trade Arabs who bring slaves into Wollaga from the west. The main bazaars for slaves are Jimata-gabea and Orobo-gabea in Gedame and the bazaar in Chelema.
The main city of Wollaga -- Gedame -- is the residence of Dajazmatch Joti. His home is constructed like those of other Abyssinian rulers. Around it are huddled together the many huts of Joti's soldiers. He has 1500 rifles, in addition to those bestowed on him by the Emperor. Most of the soldiers are from Gojjam. Joti asserts that the people of Gojjam are his relatives, in so much as he himself comes from Gojjam. Joti's family "Wanaga" came from Damota, settled here and subdued all the neighboring tribes. Joti has eight wives, strictly guarded in his harem by eunuchs. Joti nominally converted to Christianity, but in essence holds the old beliefs and secretly carries out sacrifices at the foot of Mount Sonka. His children Solomon and Siakh are baptized, speak Abyssinian, read, write, pray, and fast like Abyssinians. Their teacher Alaka Wolde Mariam is an outstanding person, a model missionary, rare among the Abyssinian clergy. But his efforts don't yield much success. Aside from the children of several aristocrats, he has no followers. In the city of Gedame, there is a church which Joti maintains. It is small, poor, and poorly furnished. I visited it on Sunday, and it was completely empty. Aside from the clergy and their families, not a soul was there.
Fitaurari Solomon (Joti's son) is his father's favorite and his designated successor. He is now with his father in Addis Ababa.
In Gedame I visited the place where the unfortunate Bottega perished two years ago.
The Attitude of the Galla Population to Europeans
The inhabitants know very little about Europeans. They call them "whites" and also, as they call the Abyssinians frendj. They look at Europeans with curiosity rather than respect or fear. The names of European nationalities and the differences among them are completely unknown. The closeness of foreigners to the west of them likewise makes very little impression. In Wollaga it is far from people's thoughts that their land could in the not too distant future become a theater of war. In case of war, I think that with any tact and skill on the part of the Anglo-Egyptian command, the Gallas would go over to their side and would be the worst and most dangerous enemies of the Abyssinians ... In prosperous Wollaga, still untouched by Abyssinian spear nor bullet, is felt discontent at the yoke of their dependent status. It even seems to me that in Wollaga, as in times gone by in the Moscow principality, lies the germ of rebirth of Galla nationality. People here closely keep the old customs and obediently submit to their king. The population, which is very dense, quickly multiplying and brave, is little by little arming itself with rifles. I think that if Emperor Menelik does not succeed in making stronger ties between Wollaga and Ethiopia, his descendants will have to deal with them a lot.
Menelik shows mercy and does not touch Wollaga because of the income it provides.
The Western Galla Regions as a Theater of Military Action in Case of Anglo-Abyssinian War
The entire area to the west of Addis Ababa, to the south of the Abay River, to the north of the main mountain ridge that lies to the southwest of the Ethiopian plateau, is divided by rivers into five regions.
1. The region between Addis Ababa and the Didessa River is mountainous. The mountains of Chalea are impassable for field artillery. The region abounds in food.
2. The region among the rivers Didessa, Gaba and Birbir is open country, easily accessible from the Birbir River to Mount Zhirgo. It is difficult and mountainous to the east of that. It has food, but not in plenty.
3. The region to the north of the Birbir River, to the south of the Abay, and to the west of the Didessa River up to the Baro River is mountainous and hard to reach.
4. The region to the north of the Goba River to Mount Kaffa and to the west of the Didessa River to the River Baro is mountainous, broken by deep depressions, closed, and impassable for field artillery. It has food aplenty.
5. The region to the west of the Birbir River and to the north of the Baro River is open, easily accessible, and abounds in food. The inhabitants are hostile to the Abyssinians.
The routes for English penetration are the Baro and Abay Rivers. The Baro is navigable up to the city of Bure. The right bank of the Baro for a stretch of 200 versts [132 miles] lies in the domain of Dajazmatch Joti. Nasyr, which is occupied by the English, is located amid a population that pays tribute to Joti. For that entire extent the river is navigable, allowing landing anywhere. The area is flat and easy to get to. From this side, Wollaga is very open to foreign invasion and is not at all defended up to the Birbir River, after which, as stated above, Abyssinian troops are stationed. The most probable point of landing for English troops is the mouth of the Gaba River, where it falls into the Baro. The nearest Abyssinian post to there is Lalo, with 150 men neftanya, and that is five days' journey away. At a similar distance is the city of Nole-Koba where 170 men, Trigreans, are stationed. Excellent paths extend from this place in the valley of the Birbir River. An excellent road that Bottego traveled, goes through the center of Wollaga. The city of Gedame, at a distance of four to five days journey is occupied by 2000 to 3000 troops of Dajazmatch Joti.
The landing of English troops near Bure seems to me less probable. At two to three days journey from that place significant Abyssinian strength is stationed. Near the city of Bure are stationed more than 2000 men, gondars and neftanya. In the city of Gore, lies the residence of the chief of the territory, Dajazmatch Tesemma. More than a thousand men of his army are stationed there.
I do not have, at the present time, definite information about the accessibility of the Ethiopian regions on the western side of the Abay River.
Routes from Wollaga to Addis Ababa
1. Yambo, Burbay, Gunzhi, Roge, Bilo to Addis Ababa is 550 to 600 versts [364 to 397 miles].
2. Yambo, Lalo, Nole-Koba, Roge, Bilo to Addis Ababa is 550 to 600 versts [364 to 397 miles].
3. Yambo, Ayra, Sibu, Sarte, Lekamti to Addis Ababa is 600 to 650 versts [397 to 430 miles].
The first two are good roads. The third is difficult and mountainous.
Routes from Bure to Addis Ababa
1. Bure, Abeko, Gynzhi, Roge, Bilo to Addis Ababa is 600 versts [397 miles].
2. Bure, Buno, Nono, Amaya to Addis Ababa is 600 versts [396 miles].
The main strategic points
1. The mouth of the Gaba River where it falls into the Baro River. It must be occupied as soon as possible by a significant garrison.
It is beyond doubt that the English will demand the opening of the western borders for trade when they renew negotiations. In case of agreement on this, the border of the Emperor of Ethiopia could be open at this very point.
2. The city of Gedame. It is located on the route from Beni-Shangul to Addis Ababa and is close to the River Baro, commanding its valley. Gedame is 20 days march from Addis Ababa, ten days from Beni-Shangul, and 15 days from Fasokl. It is located amid a populace that is very wealthy.
Probable plan of the English in case of Anglo-Abyssinian conflict
Based on what was stated above, it seems to me that the probable form of action by the English, in case of conflict with Abyssinia is as follows.
In the rainy season, July to August, a 25,000 to 40,000 English corps will land on the right bank of the Baro River at the mouth of the Gaba River. During the time the landing takes, the commander will go into negotiations with the ruler of Wollaga, Dajazmatch Joti, after which, in case of agreement with him, the English without firing a shot will occupy the region. They will leave 50 men at the mouth of the Baro River, 1200 men in Das, as many in Sayo. On the summit of the mountain range, stretching from the city of Tulu Walela on the north, at 75 to 100 versts [50 to 66 miles] from the place of landing, they will station in a fortified camp their man force: strong detachments with artillery sent to the Birbir River and occupying all the crossings. The detachments which are the farthest forward will be 50 to 75 versts from the main camp.
In case Joti proves to be hostile to the English, the English are quite capable of overwhelming him before the arrival of help from the Abyssinians. Until November, the English will remain complete masters of the land they occupied and during this time they will be able to prepare to meet a counterattack from Emperor Menelik.
Until November, the English will not be threatened by either Dajazmatch Demissew, located beyond the Birbir River, which cannot be forded during the rainy season, or by Dajazmatch Tesemma, who is located on the left bank of the Gobi River, which also cannot be crossed during the rainy season.
The outcome of the counterattack which Emperor Menelik must launch in case of an English invasion, will decide the fate both of the entire campaign and also of Ethiopia. If Menelik fails, if he does not succeed in crushing the enemy as he did at Adoua, and the English hold on to their positions, then the campaign is lost. Emperor Menelik can field an army of 200,000 to 250,000. he cannot begin a campaign earlier than October and in view of the system of requisitioning supplies for the Abyssinian army, the Emperor cannot conduct a campaign for more than four or five months. Over the course of that time, the Abyssinians will be forced to fall back because of depletion of grain stocks in the region. If, as said above, they do not win a decisive victory over English, the fate of the campaign will be decided. The English will win a moral victory and both because of that and because of the devastation of the region, the Emperor will not be able to renew the campaign.
After the departure of the Emperor's troops, the English will take Leka, Ilu-Babur, and Kaffa. Having established themselves there and attracting to their side the native population, the following summer they will move against Shoa, having in the vanguard hordes of militant Gallas who hate Abyssinians.
Probable plan of defense of Emperor Menelik
Despite the evident danger threatening Abyssinia from the west, Emperor Menelik has so far taken no measures to protect his borders. The borders, as indicated by what was said above, are completely open and weakly occupied. This makes it possible to suggest that in the future conflict Emperor Menelik will adhere to the same tactics that he used in the Abyssinian-Italian war. He won't protect the border. the border will collapse, and when the border is violated he will fall upon the invaders with all his might.
The Emperor is compelled to use this mode of action for the following reasons:
1. Abyssinia is too poor to build fortresses. which, besides, have never stopped a hostile invasion.
2. That same reason forces the Emperor of Ethiopia to station military units in internal areas where they can have food supplies. Therefore, the Abyssinians cannot occupy with a significant detachment any point which is important strategically but in which there are not enough provisions.
3. Likewise, it would not be good for the Abyssinians to occupy areas that are low-lying, hot, and unhealthy. Not only to Abyssinian soldiers, but also to their leaders it is completely incomprehensible that any necessity could make them suffer such hardships. They do not understand what value poor and unhealthy territory could have.
This course of action, although appropriate for the situation is far from perfect. Its deficiency was most evident during the Italian War when Emperor Menelik despite his victory lost a region of significant size.
Although Emperor Menelik does not have the wherewithal to fully protect his borders from foreign invasion, he should nonetheless make such an invasion more difficult for the English. He should occupy several points on the western border, even by weak garrisons. He should move the troops of Dajazmatch Demissew closer to the border, occupy the city of Gedame and the mouth of the Gabi River. Those measures would give the English the impression that the Emperor anticipates that these are the points where the English would first attack, and that he is preparing to defend them.
In the city of Gedame I visited the place where the unfortunate Bottego perished two years ago.
Participants in that fight told me the following about it. Bottego and his expedition crossed the Baro Rver and from the land of Yambo entered the region of Das of Balambaras Nuro. Emperor Menelik had let Joti know beforehand that in case the expedition of Bottego appeared in his realm he should stop it and send it to Addis Ababa. Balambaras Nuro met the expedition with great respect, gave them provisions and guides in Gedame. So too did the ruler of Sayo, Fitaurari Aba Chela. Bottego crossed the spurs of Wollaga and got within several versts of the city of Gadame when he was met by an honorary convoy of several hundred men, armed with rifles.
My informant, a Gojjam soldier Negusye, who participated himself in this meeting, says that Bottego was so surprised by this that he cocked the trigger of his revolver. Dajazmatch Joti expected as a guest in his house. Carpets were spread and a feast had been made ready. In addition to these friendly preparations in Gedame, all the soldiers of Joti had been assembled. From the mountain where the honorary meeting was held, a view opened on the city and a huge camp was laid out around.
Surprised, Bottego evidently lost his head. Having seen a rocky hill near the road, Bottego climbed there on his mule and announced that he would set up his camp there, regardless of all the persuasion of the leader of the convoy, who said that the Dajazmatch had prepared his house for him and awaited him.
The hill selected by Bottego was a strong defensive position because it was difficult to get to. Three sides were steep and rocky, and the fourth was a narrow gently sloping neck of land connected to the ridge. The hill commanded the city. Its top, about a thousand square sazhen [seven thousand square feet] was covered with grass and several trees. The problem with that position was that there was no water nearby and it was bad for firing from. Having set up camp, Bottego sent to tell Joti that on the following day he would require guides to Arab land. In the evening Joti send as a gift to Bottego several bulls, much bread and mead. Bottego burned the baskets of bread and smashed the jugs of mead, saying that they were poisoned.
In response to new attempts to persuade him to not go to Arab land but rather to go to Menelik in Shoa, Bottego categorically refused. Therefore, that night, Joti posted a guard of 100 to 200 soldiers around the hill occupied by Bottego. At dawn, seeing himself surrounded and guarded, Bottego first opened fire and started a fight. Although Bottego's position was hard to get to, it was not good for firing from, and the foot of the cliff was in dead space, and in addition the area around it was overgrown with tall dry grass. The fight didn't last long. Because of the thorny and tall grass, the Abyssinians killed soldiers of Bottego who were demoralized by the realization of the impossibility of success. They saw the difficult situation in which they found themselves, threw away their rifles, and ran, sliding down a sheer cliff on the side where there were no Abyssinians. At the same time the grass was set on fire. Two officers, Vanuteli and Chiterni, followed the example of the soldiers. Of them one was wounded. Bottego was the only one left, and standing on the neck of land leading to the hill, he fired back, knocking down three Galla leaders. One Galla soldier wounded Bottego. He fell, but continued to desperately defend himself, until he was hacked with a saber. Most of his people died. The Gallas pardoned the survivors. It is said that they were terribly emaciated and thin. Among the loot, Joti got rifles and many cattle which had been taken by Bottego from the Yambo tribe.
They showed me the place where Bottego fell. His body had not been buried, but I did not find any human bones on the hill where the fight happened. The Gallas lost 15 men. Bottego lost 80.
That was a very sad end to a truly outstanding expedition. Bottego died as a madman, but, in any case, a brave man and an honored soldier. His fundamental mistake was that he went to Wollaga, an area that was well-known to be populous and that was owned by a hostile state. The second mistake was his inappropriate course of action when his first mistake became evident, and in his poor choice of position. What kind of success could Bottego expect even if he defended his position? Surrounded on all sides, without water, in the midst of an area densely populated with warlike people. It seems to me that he had to either make a quick surprise attack on the Dajazmatch in his own home, capture him gain a foothold in his house, capture his wives and property and set himself up to run for it or to sell his life dearly. Another approach, if he didn't have the determination needed for the first idea, was to faire bonne mine à mauvais jeu [make the most of a bad game] and wait for another opportunity.
I am sending with this note my report number one about the situation in Wollaga and the state of the region to the west of the Didessa River. I apologize for the fact that the report is crumpled and incomplete. I ask your excellency to be tolerant of that in view of the circumstances in which I have to work.
As I stated in the report, I was very surprised at the absence of any measures taken by the Emperor of Ethiopia for the defense of the western borders, which are under heavy threat. There can be no doubt that the main route for the English to penetrate Ethiopia is by way of the Baro River. This navigable river is in the domain of the autonomous Galla Joti for an extent of 200 versts [132 miles]. The entire low valley of the river is populated by negroes, who are excellent fighting and working material. These negroes are relatively subordinate to Joti and pay him tribute in slaves. The region is rich in elephants. As I mentioned in the report, I consider it urgent that an Abyssinian detachment occupy the mouth of the Gaba River. I consider this point very important because of its strategic and commercial significance. I also think that with some work and luck the whole valley of the Baro River, which is inhabited by negroes, could be salvaged ...
In accord with my report to Your Excellency on July 26 1899, my report number one, I left Gedame on the designated day and arrived in Chelem, the main city of the province of the same name, which is governed by the brother of Dajazmatch Joti, Fitaurari Ashan. On July 27. I crossed the border of the realm of Joti and having crossed a mountain ridge which divides the basin of the Dabus and Ya Rivers, and I bivouacked in the land of Mao. This region, populated by a negro tribe, not long ago belonged to Dajazmatch Joti who made the leader of this tribe a Fitaurari. But Fitaurari Kutu considers himself of the same blood as the Sudanese, who were subservient to the western neighbor of Joti, Sheikh Khodzholi, and, as soon as the latter submitted to the Emperor of Ethiopia (in 1897), Fitaurari Kutu detached himself from Joti and went over to Khodzholi. Now, because of this, there is a dispute between Joti and Khodzholi, which will be resolved at the end of the keremt [the rainy season in Ethiopia, from June to August](25) by the Emperor. The region of Mao up until now has been as if under prohibition, and an Abyssinian garrison of 30 men is stationed there. I stayed with Ato-Kori, the leader of this detachment. He received me more than hospitably and even supplied me with flour for the road. His soldiers had hand-ground this flour for several days in a row before my arrival. On the 29th, I arrived in the region of Ya, which is subject to Sheikh Khodzholi. The chief of the region is Aba-Simbir, an Arab, a Sudanese. The 30th was spent selecting porters. On the 31st we set out and set up a bivouac in the desert valley of the Ya River. The porters spent the night with us, and we set up surveillance on them. Nevertheless, by morning out of 40 men 14 were missing, having run away in the night. When we set out from the bivouac and arrived at a rocky place on one of the steepest slopes, all the porters, having conspired, suddenly threw down their burdens and rushed into the thicket. Pursuit would have been useless. We had to pick up the abandoned loads at all cost. I hoisted one of the sacks of grain on my shoulders. My ashkers followed my example. And we moved on. On August 2, I reached Gokha, the residence of Sheikh Khodzholi. Khodzholi is a typical Sudanese -- face black as pitch, face disfigured by tattoos, lively, passionate, hot-tempered. He is 36 years old and is the most powerful and richest of all the surrounding Arab rulers. In times past, his father Khasan ruled the small region of Agoldi. When the Mahdi reigned in the Sudan, Khasan recognized his authority. On the death of the Mahdi, the rulers of Beni-Shangul, Dula, and Agoldi began to express an inclination to detach themselves from Caliph Abdullakhi. Khodzholi went to Omdurman, reported this and volunteered to serve the Caliph. As a result of this, Caliph Abdullakhi in 1884 sent Emir Khalilya with several companies of dervishes to take Agoldi, Kirin, and Beni-Shangul. Khodzholi was the guide who led the dervishes to his own country. Khodzholi hoped with the help of the dervishes to take over the neighboring tribes, but he was deceived. The dervishes, having established themselves in Agoldi, began to ravage the region. The inhabitants revolted. Emir Khalil put Khasana, the father of Khodzholi, in chains. The people of Agoldi surrounded the fortress where Khalil and the dervishes were. Khalil appealed to Abdurrakhman for help, and he sent his brother Mahomed with 1000 men to the rescue. Mahomed succeeded in doing this. Khalil fell back to Beni-Shangul and sent Khasan in chains to Khartoum, where he died. Having spent a year in Beni-Shangul and having replenished his detachment and ammunition, Khalil returned to Agoldi, crossed the Dabus River and occupied the region of Sibu, which belonged to the father of Dajazmatch Gabro-Egziabeer, who at that time was considered a tributary of Menelik. This border violation triggered the famous campaign of Ras Gobana in 1886. Ras Gobana met the dervishes in Sibu, smashed them in a fierce fight and drove them beyond the Dabus River. This defeat of the dervishes destroyed their prestige in the basin of the Dabus and Abay Rivers. Joti, who up until then was a tributary of the dervishes, decided to decisively distance himself from them and openly went over to the side of Menelik. Beni-Shangul also distanced itself from the Caliphate, and Dula and Angoldi did likewise. To punish the traitors, Caliph Abdullakhi send one of his emirs, Abdurrasul, with a large army (10,000 men). Abdurrasul ravaged Beni-Shangu and Dula, but having exhausted his military supplies, he fell back. This took place in 1887, and from that time Beni-Shangul, Fasokl, Dula and the lands of Sheikh Khodzholi broke all ties with the Caliphate. In 1887, Ras Makonnen conquered Beni-Shangul. Khodzholi voluntarily submitted to Makonnen and for the entire campaign served as his guide. For these services, Kholzholi was allowed to keep all of his possessions inviolably. Khodzholi idolizes Ras Makonnen. He says that on Earth he acknowledges only God and Makonnen and that he is ready to sacrifice everything for Makonnen. These feelings are sincere. At the time of the campaign of Ras Makonnen in Beni-Shangul, there was a conflict between them due to the fact that Makonnen posted a guard on him, who followed him everywhere. Khodzoli lost his temper and, forgetting himself, swung at Ras Makonnen and struck him with his bandolier. After this, Khodzholi expected punishment, but Ras Makonnen was generous and did nothing to him. For this Khodzholi is forever grateful to the Ras. Khodzholi has 800 rifle-bearing soldiers -- all slaves. He is the richest slave owner in the region and, with the help of his slaves, he works huge fields which stretch along the sides of the road. Farming is Khodzholi's main source of income. The poor inhabitants of Dula buy bread for gold. He gets particularly high profits now when all the surrounding area has been devastated ty the two campaigns of Ras Makonnen and Dajazmatch Demissew. The price of bread is very high. In Gokha, two kunies of grain (6 garnets) [19.68 liters] sells for 1 thaler. The city of Gokha lies on the main route from the lands of Joti in Dula and Fasokl. In former times a large part of the trade went through Beni-Shangul, bypassing Gokha. But now all trade goes by this route.
On August 3, my transport and porters left Gokha. I left on the fourth and, on the evening of that same day, I arrived in Dula. Here is posted a garrison of 50 men, soldiers of Dajazmatch Demissew, under the command of Fitaurari Gulelyatu. I stayed in his house. They received us very warmly and hospitably. On August 5, my porters left Dula and headed to Beni-Shangul. Dula is an independent Arab sultanate. In former times, Dula belonged to the Egyptians and therefore to the dervishes. But after the defeat of Emir Khalil, Dula distanced itself from the Caliphate. The present ruler of Dula is Mahomed. Mahmud was subdued by Dajazmatch Demissew in 1898. He was granted the rank of Fitaurari, but nonetheless he is in respected captivity with Dajazmatch Demissew. He has been temporarily replaced by his brother Ibraham. Dula is known for its gold, which is mined not only from a channel of the river but also from veins in the mountains. All the inhabitants of Dula are involved primarily in mining gold. No one sows bread. The Arabs of Dula -- the hosts of the country -- own many slaves. The lands lying to the south and west of Dula are populated by negroes. For the Arabs those lands have up until now served as a park for hunting slaves. The road from Gokh to Dula is very lively. Thanks to the rockiness of this place and how difficult it is to reach the inhabitants did not suffer much from the recent war.
On August 7, I left Dula and arrived in Belmudi, the main city of Beni-Shangul and the location of an Abyssinian garrison of 50 men under the leadership of Kanyazmatch Isheti. Beni-Shangul was conquered by Ras Makonnen in 1897. Up until its separation from the Sudan, Beni-Shangul was subject to the Egyptians. An Egyptian garrison was stationed in Beni-Shangul. It was withdrawn by Gordon at the time of the siege of Khartoum. After the fall of Khartoum, Beni-Shangul recognized the dominion of the Mahdi and then of the Caliphate of Abdullkhi. It was a tributary of him up until 1886. At the time of the invasion of Emir Abdurrasula, Emir Abdurrakhman, the ruler of Beni-Shangul, fled to Leka to the father of Dajazmatch Gabro-Egziabeer and then expressed the desire to submit to the Emperor of Ethiopia. Before the Italo-Abyssinian War, negotiations began for Aburrakhman to recognize the sovereignty of Menelik. Abdurrakhman agreed to this and in that spirit wrote to Emperor Menelik, but Menelik, who at that time was involved in preparations for war with Italy, postponed this question for a while. In 1896 negotiations were renewed. The indecision of Abdurrakhman led to the campaign of Ras Makonnen. On the border of Abyssinian possessions an ambassador of Emir Abdurrakhman met Ras Makonnen. Ras Makonnen gave him generous gifts and sent him to Abdurrakhman, ordering him to give those gifts to the emir and tell him that if he expressed his submission to the Emperor of Ethiopia, he could keep his lands.
Parting with Ras Makonnen, the ambassador stopped on the way at the residence of Dadyazmah Demissew. He was detained by the Dajazmatch for three days, was generously gifted by him, and then was sent off to Beni-Shangul. This circumstance served as a reason for Ras Makonnen and his party to blame Dajazmatch Demissew that he had tried to convince the ambassador not to submit to Ras Makonnen, so that not the Ras but the Dajazmatch would rule Beni-Shangul, telling Abdurrakhman that if he submitted to Makonnen, then Makonnen would take him away to Harar and he would never more return to his country. It was even claimed that Demissew stole the tribute sent to Ras Makonnen by Abdurrakhman. According to another version of this story, all of this was made up by followers of Ras Makonnen and the Arabs themselves, and that actually the ambassador of Abdurrakhman, having seen the Abyssinian camp, got the impression that he could take the measure of the Abyssinians' strength. On the removal of Menelik's army, Abdurrakhman recognized the power of Menelik and presented himself to Dajazmatch Demissew. Abdurrrakhman was awarded the rank of dajazmatch. Nowadays he is in honorary captivity with Dajazmatch Demissew. His brother Mahomed has replaced him. The Abyssinian garrison both in Dula and in Beni-Shangul is in a very difficult position, especially the garrison in Beni-Shangul. Both feel a significant shortage of food supplies. Dadyamach Joti is supposed to provide 300 douls (600 measures) of grain to the detachment stationed in Dula. And Dajazmatch Gabro-Egziabeer is supposed to provide the same in Beni-Shangul, but the assigned food supplies up to now have not been sufficient, despite the fact that the order to deliver them was given at the end of May.
The leaders of the detachments buy grain with their own funds. The money provided by the Dajazmatch is long gone. Kanyazmatch Isheti is constrained all the more by the fact that grain cannot be had for money in Beni-Shangul. Waiting for the arrival of grain from Leka, the detachment of the Kanyazmatch is literally starving. For every three soldiers each day only two glasses of flour are issued. Out of the 43 soldiers with which Kanyazmatch Isheti arrived in Beni-Shangul, 21 are sick with fever, three died, one has bloody diarrhea and one is severely ill with a malignant abscess. Nonetheless, the energetic and dashing head of that needy detachment does not lose heart. He arrived in Beni-Shangul in July, quickly started building fortifications and as soon as he finished that, he sent ten men under the leadership of his brother, to occupy a post in Fasokl which was supposed to protect the Abyssinian flag that had been erected there. This detachment set out for Fasokl at the end of July. But I can't not mention that despite all the qualities of both Fitaurari Gulelyatu and of Kanyazach Isheti, they are not quite as good as the position they hold requires. Their reconnaissance is very bad. They do not have sufficiently detailed information either about the territory they occupy or about the inhabitants. And they do not really know what is happening beyond the boundaries of their region. So, for example, only after my interrogations of natives did Fitaurari Gulelyatu and Kanyazmatch Isheti realize that Anglo-Egyptian garrisons stand not only in Fasokl but also in Senaar, Roseyros, and Gearef. Communication between the garrisons at Beni-Shangul and Dula are almost non-existent, despite the fact that they are only 40 versts [26 miles] apart. Only rarely do letters arrive from or are sent to Shoa. They are completely isolated from the local population. The natives govern themselves. The Abyssinian leaders try to make friends with the Arabs and ingratiate themselves with the Arab leaders.
On my arrival in Beni-Shangul I quickly began preparations for my movement farther north. Inquiries about where to cross the Abay River (the Blue Nile) were very disappointing. During the dry season in Beni-Shangul there is only one crossing point on rafts, at the confluence of the Dabus River and the Abay. There is another crossing point from Faskol in Famaku downstream; and there are crossings in Rozeyros and Senaar. Natives unanimously confirmed that it is impossible to cross the Abay at the mouth of the Dabus River, during keremt (25) [a period of heavy rain from the beginning of June to the middle of September]. Nonetheless I resolved to personally reconnoiter the river and, if there were the least possibility, despite the risk of losing boats and animals, I would cross. On the day of my arrival there, I gave orders to collect natives equipped with axes. Fifty bundles of reeds would be needed for the raft. Those setting out with me should bring with them provisions for ten days. It would take several days to assemble this detachment and then I would start.
Everything went well with my detachment, thank God. Some of the men were ill with fever, but all could walk and were in high spirits. The animals were exhausted despite the fact that most of the load was carried by porters. The cause of this weakness was mud, cold nights in the mud, under the pouring rain, and green watery grass. Out of thirty animals, one horse and one mule fell; we left two mules behind; we traded one mule for a donkey; and we traded one mule for a pack horse. Of the thirty animals only five were fit for carrying packs. If I succeeded in crossing the Abay, I intended to leave behind the whole load, all of the tired animals and the sick men and with the rest of the men having loaded five mules with grain, I would go to Guba. Guba judging from the information I had, belongs to Ethiopia. Tekla Haymanot conquered Guba. The ruler of Guba, Abshuk submitted and pays tribute. The Emperor Menelik made him a dajazmatch. Abshuk recently died. His successor is still not known. About Abshuk's death, the Arabs said the following: Abshuk was in Famaka on the invitation of the resident of Famaka. As his guest, the resident seated him on a carpet beside himself. Ashuk's agafar (26) (head of his personal staff) came into the room with him. The resident of Famaka forcibly seated the agafar close to Abshuk, despite Abshuk's protests. Abshuk was so offended by that that when he returned to his own land, he poisoned himself.
As I told Your Excellency in report number 2 from August 11, I set out on August 12 to the Abay River (the Blue Nile). With me went the head of the Abyssinian detachment stationed in Beni-Shangul, Kanyazmatch Iseti and Magomed, the brother of Dajazmatch Aburrakhman (ruler of Beni-Shangul). Magomed assembled more than a hundred natives, armed with axes and loaded with fifty bundles of cane for building a raft. On August 13, having gone 80 versts [53 miles] by a disgusting road and in the worst heat, we got to the Abay River and here everything confirmed the assurances of natives that crossing was impossible during flood time. The crossing at El-Makra that we came to is at the very confluence of the Dabus and Abay Rivers, on the route from Guba to Beni-Shangul. This is the sole crossing between Famaka and the Dabus River. On both banks live the negro tribes of El-Gumuz who are in constant contact with one another over the course of eight months. But for four months the contact is broken off. The river is 180 sagenes [420 yards] wide, and the speed of the current is 15-20 versts [9.9-13.2 miles] per hour. The elevation above sea level is 620 meters. To get a clearer idea of the Abay, imagine a river as wide as the Neva at the Liteyniy Bridge in Petersburg and flowing with the speed of a mountain stream. (I calculated the width of the river and the speed of the current trigonometrically). The rapid current breaks against numerous stone ridges, and the sound of the river is heard from afar.
Having arrived at the crossing and having been convinced of the impossibility of overcoming the obstacles at this place, I quickly reconnoitered downstream in the hope of finding a place where the current was less strong, but this was useless. Kanyazmatch Isheti, who was under orders from Dajazmatch Joti to do everything he could to help my detachment cross to the other side, offered the chief of the El-Guma tribe 50 thalers if he could get just one man to cross. Magomed promised to give a rifle to anyone who crossed, but the natives flatly refused, saying that they did not know of any instance of anyone succeeding in crossing to the other side during the rainy season.
I made a map of the area, determined the astronomical position, and on the 14th set out on the way back by a different road. On August 17, having left in the city of Belfudi my burden of 20 exhausted mules (out of 30 animals) and 10 sick ashkers, I set out for Fasokl, where, according to the available information, there was an Abyssinian garrison of ten men under the leadership of Agafari Tsaret. Rumors that the English were quarreling with the Khedive [viceroy of Egypt under Turkish rule] continued to circulate, and I hoped that in case the rumors were right I might succeed in crossing the Abay River at Famaka. Having loaded our mules with five mekhs (five poods) [180 pounds] of grain, the last of my food supplies, and several boxes of cartridges, we left Belfudi. On the 18th, we crossed the border at Fasokl, and, much to our surprise, in the dense forest of the valley of the Tumat River we suddenly met Agafari Uaret, whom we expected to find in Fasokl. He was returning with his men to Beni-Shangul. The reasons for the removal of the Abyssinian garrison from Fasokl were the following. On August 5, Agafari Uaret with 10 men went from Belfudi to Fasokl, following an order of Emperor Menelik to occupy Fasokl and establish a post in the place where the Abyssinian flag had been raised. On August 8 Uaret arrived in Fasokl. The approach of the Abyssinians greatly disturbed Aba-Deru, who had the Abyssinian detachment followed by scouts, beginning at the border.
The region of Fasokl used to be subject to Beni-Shangul. In 1898 Fasokl was taken by the Anglo-Egyptians, and Beni-Shangul was subdued by the Abyssinians. During the campaign of Dajazmatch Demissew in Beni-Shangul some of the residents of Beni-Shangul fled to Fasokl. When Dajazmatch Demissew entered Fasokl, its ruler Aba-Deru fled and crossed over to Famaka. The brother of Aba-Deru appeared before the Dajazmatch and declared his submission. As well known by Your Excellency, Dajazmatch Demissew removed the Anglo-Egyptinans from Fasokl and planted there the Abyssinian flag. Aba-Deru nonetheless did not recognize the power of the Abyssinians and stayed on the side of the English. In view of this, Dajazmatch Demissew considered it necessary to take as a hostage the brother of Aba-Deru, Sheikh Magomed Gasan. From his captivity, Magomed Gasan wrote several letters of Aba-Deru in which he convinced him to submit to Menelik. In the final letter Magomed Gasan made the following argument: "Through your fault, I am now a captive. I would be grateful if you would come and submit to Menelik. If you are afraid to give yourself up, I will bring the Abyssinians to you." Having received this letter, Aba-Deru went berserk and answered that he wouldn't go to the Abyssinians, that he would die in his own land. Fear of the Abyssinians made him an ardent adherent of the Anglo-Egyptians. He put all his hopes in their defense.
Agafari Uaret arrived sometime after Aba-Deru and received the above-mentioned letter. It was easy for him to imagine the kind of impression his arrival would produce on Aba-Deru. When Uaret entered Fasokl, alarm signals went out alerting the populating, and Aba-Deru went with all his army to meet Uaret. There was one Egyptian soldier with Aba-Deru. To the question of why he was coming, Uaret gave Abu-Deru a letter from Kanyazmatch Ishet. Aba-Deru read the letter and asked if there was anything else for the chief of the Anglo-Egyptian garrison. Uaret answered that there was, but that he could not give it to Aba-Deru. He could only give it to the chief himself in Anglo-Egyptian chief Famaka. Aba-Deru began to insist that Uaret give him the letter, and he got so angry at Uaret's refusal that he began to threaten to hang him and even gave orders to bring ropes. Uaret nonetheless stood his ground. On the next day, the chief of the Famaka Egyptians Almaz-Efendi arrived and called for Agafari Uaret. Almaz-Efendi brought with him twenty Egyptian soldiers. Almaz in contrast to Aba-Deru was very polite. He sat down beside the Agafari on a divan, was very amiable toward him, to the great displeasure of Aba-Deru, who kept repeating that they needed to tie up the Abyssinians. Having read the letter, Almaz asked Uaret if he came just to deal with the flag or if he intended to stay in Fasokl. Uaret answered that he had been ordered to place the flag and to stay in Fasokl to guard it. To this Almaz answered he would inform his government of that, and he requested that Uaret wait several days for the reply. Almaz ordered the Abyssinian detachment to go to a house, and ordered one of the people in Aba-Deru's retinue to take care of the Abyssinians and to assign people to accompany them when they left the house for grass or water. He also promised to send the Abyssinians food supplies. (In addition, Almaz examined the Agafari's armament, which included a Berdan rifle. Almaz asked, "What kind of rifle is this? Italian? The Agafari answered, "No. Russian." Almaz said, "Russian is bad." The Agafari answered, "No. It's better.) Thus, Agafari Uaret and his men were held in Fasokl like prisoners. For three days they were given supplies, but then the food stopped. With great difficulty the Agafari managed to buy grain for thalers. On August 15 a letter arrived addressed to Agafari Uaret with the following content: "We are together with Jankhoy [a title of the Ethiopian emperor]. You came to raise the flag. Raise it but do not stay. Do not pass the night. And go to your lord. If you take exception to the fact that these are our subjects, and will resist, then we will quarrel. Aba-Deru does not like you." Aba Deru brought the letter. It was written in Arabic and translated into Abyssinian by Kanyazmacch Isheti. Having received this letter the Agafari answered that he had not been ordered to stay on that bank of the river and that he would raise the flag and return to Beni-Shangul. On the 16th, the flag was raised once again. Since the time when Dajazmatch Demissew left, it had fallen down and been completely spoiled. They found it in the bushes. They set up a tent over the flag. On the morning of August 17, the Abyssinians left Fasokl, and now the Anglo-Egyptians actually rule there.
It pained me to hear this story that was so humiliating to the Abyssinians. My words (in report Number Two) were justified -- that stationing such a small garrison (10 men) at such an exceptionally important point as Fasokl was not appropriate given the importance of the place and the dignity of the Ethiopian Empire. Actually, there is great confusion in the newly occupied regions. The Abyssinian garrisons in Dula as well as Beni-Shangul are very weak. The Abyssinian leaders, instead of supporting one another, intrigue and quarrel. Communication among the main leaders of the region is very difficult, and the fastest courier cannot cover the distance from his residence in less than nine to ten days. The Abyssinians stationed here are idle. Just the other day, Fitaurari Gullyat received grain from Wollaga. Kanyazmatch Isheti up until now has not received any grain. The cause of this disorder is not a lack in the Ethiopian Empire of the means to put things right, but the newness and strangeness of it. Up until now, the Abyssinians conquered negro and Galla regions, using their entire army and subsisting on the food supplies of the conquered territory. The army did not require any kind of care from the Abyssinian government. All the government had to do was limited to choosing the leader and designating his region. The ability and popularity of the leader determined the number of his troops and the extent of his realm. This so-to-speak economic system of conquest doubled the size of the Abyssinian realm from what it had been 20 years before. But if this system was good in fights with negroes and Gallas, it is completely useless in a fight with a stronger opponent, such as the Arabs, who have rifles and even more so in a fight with a power organized the European way, like Egypt.
The regions of Beni-Shangul, Dula and the lands of Khodzholi although fertile and rich cannot attract Abyssinians to settle there. The Arab population will not part so lightly with its freedom as did the Gallas and negroes. They will put up a desperate fight or flee to the Sudan, and this region is not in a condition to feed a significant detachment with their food resources. But at the same time the possession of these areas is of the utmost importance for Abyssinia both from the political perspective and also because these lands are rich in gold and in the future can produce a large income for the Abyssinian treasury. If Emperor Menelik intends to claim ownership of Beni-Shangul, then it will be necessary to occupy it much more strongly than he does now, to organize food production, establish quick communication with interior regions, and bring closer to Beni-Shangul the residence of the leader of the region and also troops who could quickly support the garrison of Beni-Shangul. The Fasokl incident with the flag characterizes the insufficiency of the current system. Menelik learned of this incident no sooner than 20 days after it happened, and orders about what to do got to the leader of Beni-Shangul a month and a half afterwards. In the event of a conflict, Kanyazmatch Isheti cannot count on any support from the Abyssinian side sooner than three months. Such is the inequality of the Abyssinian forces in comparison with the western neighbors of Abyssinia, who have communication by steamboat and telegraph, and are only six days' journey from Belfudi (the capital of Beni-Shangul), and the Abay River is navigable up to Abramada in Rozeyros.
My encounter with Agafari Uaret led me to change my original plan of going to Fasokl. Not to mention the fact that going there could lead to misunderstandings and maybe to a clash with Abu-Deru and the chief of Famaka, I did not have permission, according to the instructions which Your Excellency gave me, to go outside the sphere of the actual influence of Abyssinia. Nonetheless I considered it necessary, being so close to the designated point, to check out the surrounding area, to find out if it is possible to build a railway from Famaka to the south, and to try to confirm rumors I had heard in Beni-Shangul. That last task was the most difficult since I could not do it personally but would have to depend on someone else. I decided to send to Fasokl my Arab interpreter. The pretext for my sending him was a letter to Egypt, which he was to verbally ask Abu-Deru to send to Abramad, when he could. The letter was addressed to Egypt, to the Russian General Consulate, to Mr. Bronevski (my personal friend). The address was written in French, and above it was inscribed "Aux soins du Gouvernement Egyptien" [through the Egyptian government]. The letter contained my registration card, on which I wrote a request for Bronevky to send a telegram to my mother telling her that I had arrived safely in Fasokl and was in good health. I did not give any secret instructions to the Arab, fearing that the instructions would be betrayed. Rather I ordered that he give the letter to Abu-Deru as soon as possible and then return to Beni-Shangul. I figured that through the sociability and talkativeness of the Arabs, my interpreter, without orders from me, would learn all the current rumors, which he wouldn't fail to pass on to me on his return. The Arab set out to Aba-Deru on August 19 and has not yet returned.
I sent my mules carrying food supplies and cartridges with five men to Beni-Shngul. I myself, accompanied by 15 ashkers and one guide set out for Mount Akaro, which is about 15 versts [9.9 miles] from Fasokl. From Agafari Uaret I had learned that in Fasokl they already knew of my presence and that there were very exaggerated rumors about the size of my detachment, which were worrying to the inhabitants. Fearing that the English would use that rumor and that Abu-Deru woud attack me, I took all measures to avoid being caught unexpectedly and unawares. At five o'clock in the morning I left the bivouac. At eight o'clock we climbed the rocky slopes of Mount Akaro. On the rocks, we saw huddled together the many huts of negroes, serfs of Aba-Deru. At our approach, several of the negroes fled. Others met us calmly. From Mount Akaro, a far panorama opens. At fifteen versts [9.9 miles] rises the rocky face of Fasokl, on the left bank of the Abay, facing Famaka. Across from Fasokl on the right bank of the Abay rises another cliff, at the foot of which is located the city of Famaka. Farther to the north and west are seen rare hills and the endless Pre-Nile lowlands. Through a spyglass, I could see the course of the Abay River and Rozeyros. I believe that it would be difficult to extend a railway through Famaka and that it would be much more convenient to go through Rozeyros. At 11 o'clock I finished my observations and left the mountain. We quickly set out toward the border of Beni-Shangul and by sunset arrived at negro villages belonging to Abdurrakhman. We hadn't eaten anything all day, but even at our bivouac there was no food. The inhabitants themselves were starving. New crops of machella were not yet ripe. On the 20th, we arrived at the city of Belfudi. On the 22nd, I hope to get to Leka. I intend to send my transport on porters to Leka by way of Wollaga, if I go by the northern road through Mandi, Nedzho and Lekamti. In the first days of September I hope to arrive at the city of Deseta, to Demissew.
I humbly request that Your Excellency send me there an order for me to go to Addis Ababa or to continue north through Gojjam to Bubu and them to Metama. In accord with the instructions you gave me earlier, I should arrive in Addis-Ababa at the end of September. If I go to Metama, I will only be able to return in October. I will wait in Deseta for the orders of Your Excellency.
I also humbly request that you send me 2000 thalers to pay for the services of my ashkers and to buy mules for the further trip to Metama. Of the 1200 thalers which I had when I left Addis Ababa, only a few dozen remain. Money can be conveyed by order of Emperor Menelik and issued by Dajazmatch Demissew or Gabro-Egziabeer.
My detachment is in good shape. The animals suffered badly, but the men are cheerful. Ten men are sick. We do not lose heart despite having in recent days had hard work, making quick and long treks in scorching heat. The ashkers carried part of the cargo on their backs. And we also endured a major shortage of food supplies. Up until now when we arrived at Beni-Shangul, each ashker was receiving only one glass of grain a day.
Additional news, August 22, 1899 from Belfudi.
Kabkab-Bata has been appointed chief of Rozeyros. He has arrived in Roseyros. He reports to Abbas-Bate (the chief of Senkaar). Famaka reports to Kabka-Bate. The Englishman Lis has been recalled. Reportedly, Kabkab-Bata and Abbas-Bata are Egyptians.
I report to Your Excellency that, on September 30, I received in Lekamti your instructions and a letter from Emperor Menelik. On Ocober 3, having received from Dajazmatch Demissew 1000 thalers, sent to me by you, I set out for Addis Ababa, where I hope to arrive on October 20. I'm taking a roundabout route, intending to ascend the mountains of Tuku, Konchi, Dzhibat, Roge, Dendi, and Wochena, to make azimuth and latitude measurements, in order to connect with Addis Ababa the geographical triangulation which I carried out the whole way, starting at Faskol.
The lands of Joti border on the west with the negroes of Mao, who formerly were subject to the ruler of the Tsotso region, also known as Asoso. It is now ruled by Khodzholi. From time immemorial, the Gallas have been hostile to the negroes. Dajazmatch Joti subdued part of the Mao tribe and ruled them for about ten years. Mao paid tribute to Joti in the form of elephant tusks and slaves and they were managed by their tribal chief Kutu, whom Joti awarded the title of Fitaurari. At the time of the campaign of Ras Makonnen to Beni-Shangul in 1898, the ruler of Tsotso, Sheikh Khodzholi, voluntarily submitted to Abyssinia and served as a guide for the Abyssinians. At the end of the campaign, Khodzholi and Kutu requested of Ras Makonnen that he unite the Mao tribe which had been conquered by Dajazmatch Joti to the Tsotso region, because of the blood ties of the Mao tribe with the inhabitants of Tsotso and because then Khodzholi would become as much a servant of the Ethiopian Emperor as Joti is.
Ras Makonnen agreed and Fitaurari Kutu quickly detached himself from Dajazmatch Joti. Joti protested and Emperor Menelik decided to personally judge the case. Until he makes his ruling, Menelik has imposed a prohibition on the disputed land. Fitauari Gyetaneku was ordered to station a small garrison in Mao to protect it. Fitaurai Gyetanekh was on bad terms with Dajazmatch Joti, and due to Joti's intrigues the summer of that year Fitaurari Gyetanekh was removed from his post and a friend of Joti, Bashi-Zaudu was appointed. In August of that year Bashi-Zaudu arrived in Mao with his people and a large detachment of Joti's Gallas and replaced the garrison that had been there before. The introduction into Mao of Gallas who where hostile to them caused agitation such as there had never been before. The people of Mao who had to recognize the appointment of Bashi-Zaudu demanded that he show the imperial seal, and did not come to his call when he wanted to assemble inhabitants to a raise a building for the new garrison. The disobedience of the Mao prompted Bashi-Zaudu to take punitive measures against them. He attacked the Mao settlement with his detachment and Gallas and tore it to the ground. Several hundred Mao people were killed, some were imprisoned, most of the rest of the population fled.
It is unknown what the emperor thinks of the acts of Bashi-Zaudu and which side he will take in this matter, but in any case, that decision will be delivered very soon. Dajazmatch Demissew, Sheikh Khodzholi, And Fitauraris Kutu and Getanekh have been called to Addis-Ababa.
The complaint of Dajazmatch Joti against Dajazmatch Demissew consists of the following. In 1899, Dajazmatch Demissew, as your Excellency knows, carried out a campaign to Fasokl. Going back to the border of Wollaga, he went south and then west following the course of the Daka River (which on maps is called the Sonka River). The aim of this movement was to capture slaves in Kopy, a land famed for its dense population. Along the course of the Daka live Komo negroes who consider themselves subjects of Joti. The Abyssinians did not bother them. At 100 to 150 versts [66 to 99 miles] from Mount Wollaga the Daka River dries up and there begins the waterless Pre-Nile lowlands. The Abyssinians turned north, crossed the valley of the Yaa River (which on maps is called the Yabus) and on the tenth day after leaving the borders of Wollaga arrived in Kopn. On the arrival of the Abyssinians the natives fled. Hunting them seemed pointless. Dajazmatch Demissew, having captured in all only a few dozen prisoners, turned back and returned the same way. The swampy water which the troops had to drink had a disastrous effect on them. Hundreds of Abyssinians and Gallas started to die every day from a terrible fever. By the time the Dajazmatch reached Wollaga, more than three thousand of his men had died and, in addition, many were sick. On the border of Wollaga, in the land of Komo, Dajazmatch Demissew ordered that the negro settlements, subjects of Joti, be surrounded and taken prisoner, in this way obtaining about a thousand slaves, to make up for the failure in Kopn. To the complaints of Joti, Dadyamach Demissew answered that he considered it his duty to do that because the Emperor had ordered him to get slaves for him.
Both that and other matters are not just local issues, but are also closely related to questions about slavery and the position of the negro tribes in Ethiopia.
Numerous negro tribes, living on the western outskirts of Ethiopia, continue to serve as a "reserve" of slaves for the neighboring Abyssinians, Arabs, and Gallas. The capture of slaves, accompanied by murder and violence, keeps these tribes in perpetual fear and hence a labor force numbering in the millions is of no use to the state. The benefits of extracting slaves are illusory because in the course of massive Abyssinian campaigns, the number of slaves captured is rarely more than the number of Abyssinian troops lost in the effort. (For example, in the campaign to Kopn, Dajazmatch Demissew lost 3000 men and captured 1000.) Also, slavery is not a necessary component of the economic structure in Abyssinia. The Abyssinians get very little benefit from their slaves and could easily do without them. Slavery is different in the center of Abyssinia, in the Galla outlying districts and in Arab lands. In Ethiopia itself the slave trade is banned by order of Emperor Menelik. Giving slaves to relatives and friends is permitted. Slave prisoners of war are different from slaves who were purchased before the ban on slave trading and those born from such. Prisoners of war are freed seven years from the day of their imprisonment. The others are slaves for life. Mass slavery and the use of slaves as agricultural labor almost does not exist in Abyssinia, because the agricultural system is a servitude system. Large landowners give their land to peasants, obliging them to do this work and taking a part of the harvest. The treatment of slaves is very gentle. The slave owner does not have the right of life and death over his slave. Very little work is demanded of slaves, and they t are, for the most part, as idle as their masters. Slaves take care of household duties, carry water, fetch firewood, grind flour, and on campaigns carry jugs of fermented dough or honey. Slaves, almost without exception, become soldiers of their owners and are equal in everything with free servants, often reaching high government positions.
In the outlying Galla areas, slaves are used as an agricultural labor force. There slavery is very wide-spread and the slave trade has not yet ended despite the severe decree of Emperor Menelik. In Wollaga, slaves are sold in bazaars, at which a good slave can sell for fifteen thalers. Gallas who have slaves are taxed on a par with those who own cattle. This tax goes to pay tribute to Emperor Menelik, but exceeds the tribute by many times, as I wrote before to Your Excellency. The treatment of slaves is not brutal. Slaves are like members of the owner's family.
Slavery is somewhat different in Beni-Shangul, Komato and Tsotso. Here Arab-aliens enslaved the entire indigenous negro population, and every year replenish the number of their slaves by capturing more in neighboring negro lands. In Beni-Shangul and adjacent areas slaves constitute the main capital of the country. They represent the main object of trade, the working hands, and the military strength. Here the slaveowners' rights with regard to their slaves are without limits. Their treatment is often brutal. The position of the slaves is humiliating.
Thus, we see that while for Abyssinia slavery appears to be a luxury that it could easily do without; in contrast, for Abyssinian possessions in the Sudan, slavery is the basis of the entire economic structure. In Abyssinia, slavery will end by itself as soon as the source of slaves dries up -- the negro prisoners of war. But in the Sudan, the extinction of slavery will not happen without radical changes. On the other hand, putting aside the question of the emancipation of slaves, it seems to me that it is necessary to consider the question of slave hunting. This should be finally put an end to as bringing great harm to the state. The treatment by Ethiopia of negro tribes dwelling in its outskirts gives witness to the fact that the Abyssinian government doesn't recognize either the benefits it could get from them or the value to the state of possession of these tribes or the dangers that could threaten Abyssinia if it cedes ownership of them to England. A wide strip of negroes now separates the Sudan from Abyssinia. The main mass of them inhabit the valley of the Baro and Sobat Rivers, being therefore on the main route from Sudan to Abyssinia. In the not too distant future, a trans-african railway will pass through the lands of these tribes or of their neighbors. (By the way, that railway would serve as the main communication path in the event of our having a conflict with England in India.) The population at the Sobat River, which today is very numerous, will increase rapidly as soon as it is protected from constant attacks, and it could become excellent combat material. The negro soldier is superb, especially in an army organized the European way. But despite these obvious facts, the actions of Abyssinia with regard to these tribes have been limited up until now to raids for cattle and prisoners. Such were in recent time the campaign of Dajazmatch Tesemma to the White Nile and the campaign of Dajazmatch Demissew to Kopn. Both these campaigns, cost a significant number of victims and gained Abyssinia nothing. The flags that the Abyssinians raised on the Nile and the Sobat were destroyed by negroes as soon as the Abyssinians left, and the treaty between the Abyssinians and the negro princes at the mouth of the Sobat did not prevent the English from establishing themselves there. At Nasyr, one of the points where the Abyssinian placed their flag, an Anglo-Egyptian garrison is now posted. It is necessary to mention that Nasyr has first-order strategic importance, being at the merger of the Juba and Baro Rivers, and that the railway will go through it since lower and higher along the river it is too difficult to build a crossing. Neither Dajazmatch Tsama nor Dajazmatch Demissew left garrisons in the lands leading to these area nor did they secure them for themselves. The reason for this is that the Abyssinians consider these lands and the tribes who inhabit them worthless. These lands are far from cities. The territory is hot and low. Although there are plenty of cattle and bread, there is no honey, which is so necessary for the Abyssinians ... In a word, these lands are not attractive to the Abyssinians.
Accustomed to equating state interests with private interests, they cannot understand that although for Abyssinians as individuals the Sobata valley is worthless, for the Ethiopian Empire the Sobata valley is extremely important as the gateway to Abyssinia.
There can be no doubt that as England becomes firmly established in the Sudan, it will turn its main attention to the Sobata valley, and if Abyssinia does not alter its current course of action, England will seize it and make it a base for action against Abyssinia and make of its people a formidable fighting force.
I am reporting to Your Excellency about an heroic deed performed by Private of His Majesty's Life-Guard Hussar Regiment Kapnin.
Private Kapnin saved my life during an elephant hunt. I, Kapnin, and a Galla guide came upon elephants in dense forest. I approached an elephant unnoticed. I fired on it, but my rifle misfired, and from the sound of the misfire the elephant fled and with him the entire herd. At that moment a she-elephant with a calf came upon us. Seeing me six feet in front of her, she did not turn back and did not follow the herd like the other elephants, but rather, probably to protect her calf, she attacked me. I took aim at her head and pulled the trigger, but misfired again. The she-elephant was almost on me. Kapnin was three paces to the side, and a bush prevented him from shooting. Hearing the misfire and sensing what was wrong, he rushed forward and with one shot took down the elephant.
Aside from this, for the whole journey, Private Kapnin has conducted himself well, as a worthy hussar of His Majesty. (Footnote written by I. S. Katsnel'son -- By order of Nikolas II, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent a copy of this report to the Head of the General Staff A. N. Kuropatkin.)
I am reporting to Your Excellency that on October 20 I arrived at Gontat at Mount Makagasha. Tomorrow, the 23rd, I will climb Mount Wochecha, and on the 24th I should arrive in Addis Ababa.
My detachment is fully recovered from its illnesses and is as hale and hearty and ready for new works and feats as when we set out from Addis Ababa four months ago. I consider it my duty to report to Your Excellency about the exemplary conduct and remarkable diligence and endurance of my men. During our difficult journey, which took place during the rainy season (conditions recognized by the Abyssinians as impossible for travel, as Emperor Menelik told me at my farewell audience with him), we had to cope with difficult climatic conditions and also with diseases and even hunger (while we were in Beni-Shangul). In spite of that, my men conducted themselves in exemplary fashion, and I never heard the least grumble and there was no instance of disobedience or strikes or of servants deserting, which all travelers in Abyssinia complain of. I had nothing of the kind.
I humbly petition our Excellency to take notice of such exemplary behavior on the part of my ashkers, who consider themselves not only my personal servants but also servants of "the Moscow State." Among the ashkers their chief Wal'de Tadik particularly distinguished himself, having made with me the trek from Harar to Addis Ababa several years ago at the time of the arrival of the Red Cross detachment in Abyssinia and having made with me the journey to the Baro River, and the campaign to Lake Rudolph and the present journey to Beni-Shangul as well.
I am reporting to Your Excellency that in accord with the desire expressed by Emperor Menelik, I presented to him my thoughts about the state of the western borders of Ethiopia and about measures which are necessary to prepare for war with England. These thoughts were expressed in three letters in the Abyssinian language. I present a translation of those letters and a full account of them in this report.
I presented the first letter to Emperor Menelik on December 3, 1899. In it, I set out the reasons why war with England is unavoidable, In the meeting with the Emperor which followed, he expressed to me his thanks for that letter. He found all of my conclusions true and said that he would take them into consideration and would take note of them.
In the second letter, I investigated the condition of the Ethiopian border from the perspective of defense, given the complete defenselessness of Abyssinia on the side of the Baro River. Based on this, I developed England's probable plan of attack and suggested defensive measures.
I presented this letter to Emperor Menelik on December 16, but on that day I was not able to read the whole thing, since the Emperor received me at 5 o'clock in the evening and was obviously tired.
Having familiarized the Emperor with the disposition of the English on his borders and their strength, I, at his request, moved on to the measures I was proposing. When I read about the necessity of moving Dadyasmach Demissew to the lands of Joti, the Emperor interrupted me with the following words: "That which you advise is very important. Today I am tired and not in condition to consider it thoroughly. Read me this again on my return from Bulgi. Your advice comes from the heart."
I learned that on the following day the Emperor sent an order for Dajazmatch Demissew to appear in the capital.
On January 2, I presented the second and third letters to the Emperor. In the third letter, I set out my ideas about the organization of the army and measures to prepare for an offensive against the Sudan. When I read these letters, he sent away his entire retinue, Only the Emperor's secretary, Aliko Gabro Selassie, was present.
When I began to explain the defenselessness
of the western borders, which made it very easy for the English
to seize Joti's lands, the Emperor objected,
"Are we all dead? Who will let them in?" When I began to present evidence that in the present situation the Emperor cannot keep the English out, that he is not in a condition to do so, the Emperor was strongly irritated, or rather offended. He began to object to me that it was nothing like that, that he had many troops there who would keep the English out, that he himself would quickly assemble his army and would get to Wollaga on time. This delusion of the Emperor and the complete lack of awareness of the very threatening situation was so distressing that I unintentionally lost my due restraint and hotly disagreed with the Emperor, saying that he didn't understand either the geographic position or the state of his borders, that he was sleeping while his enemies were preparing; and with map and facts in hand I showed him the truth of my words. The Emperor did not object. I continued to read, but the Emperor didn't let me draw a picture of the probable invasion of the English. He interrupted me, very irritated, with the words, "Why are you telling me these scary things? What kind of advice is this? Only tell me your advice. Leave out the rest." I began to outline the measures I proposed. With regard to moving Dajazmatch Demissew to the land of Joti, he said that he would do that; with regard to telegraph, he reproached me that I had not proposed this to him last ear when he expressed to me his desire for it, in principle; with regard to the necessity of building bridges and storage depots he agreed completely.
During the reading of the third letter, when I hinted at the possibility of attacking the Sudan now, the Emperor said, "The Sudan is too far." To my words, "What today is far, tomorrow will be close. You can't talk with Harar in one day without a telephone, and you can't forge steel with your bare hands. Adapt, and it will not be difficult to conquer the Sudan." The Emperor answered, " If the English weren't there, it would be very easy to conquer the Sudan."
When I began a critique of the troops of the individual leaders, the Emperor got angry again. Apparently, it is intolerably unpleasant to him to suggest that he cannot completely count on his leaders, although to himself he cannot help but be aware of the truth of that. Regarding the necessity of mixing a number of his own troops with those of the separate leaders, the Emperor completely agreed. With regard to gradually separating the governing of regions from the command of armies, the Emperor noted that he had already started doing that. As for the suggestion that he appropriate to himself the exclusive right to award ranks and distinctions, the Emperor expressed his approval with the words, "I like that." With regard to establishing consulates in Khartoum, Djouti, Zeyla and Massawa, he said that, "There is no hurry about that."
The Emperor again affirmed his desire to have a regular army. He also mentioned that to put such an army together out of Gallas and negroes would not be difficult for him.
As for reconnoitering the routes to the Sudan, the Emperor said that he had already done that. He had sent scouts into the Sudan many times. The best route to Khartoum, in his opinion, is the Abay River. About this the Emperor said, "I am now completely ready to attack the Sudan."
When I finished reading, the Emperor ordered the secretary to quickly copy my advice "for Taytu," but then caught himself and said instead: "So I won't forget."
Jankhoy (31) [one of the titles of the Emperor] should know that his main enemy is England, and there shouldn't be any doubt about that. Therefore, Jankhoy must prepare for war with England.
Thirty-five years ago, an English army came to Abyssinia and defeated Atye (32) Teodoros. At that time, Ethiopia was a small, poor state, the boundaries of which did not extend even to the Awash River. The separate rulers of regions were at constant war with one another and did not want to submit to anyone. That made it not at all attractive for the English to stay in Abyssinia, since possession of it did not promise any benefits. It was not worth the large outlays that would be required. Therefore, the English, after having crowned Tekla Georgis(33), left Abyssinia.
At that time, the English were striving to take over Egypt and the Sudan, which were not yet in their hands, and to penetrate into the unexplored center of Africa. At that time, the source of the Blue Nile(34) was not yet known, and there were rumors that lands lying at its source were extraordinarily wealthy. Therefore, the English directed their efforts on the exploration of the Upper Nile and actually discovered very rich mountain lands on the banks of a large lake out of which the Nile flows.
The English took possession of those lands, as well as Egypt and the Sudan. After that, they took Beni-Shangul and began to send scouts to the Galla lands which lie to the east of Beni-Shangul. The Galla lands, according to the information they collected, seemed very rich, and they probably would have directed their conquests there and maybe now their garrisons would stand at the Awash River if God had not upset their plans.
In the Sudan the dervish uprising took place. The Mahdi appeared. He defeated the Anglo-Egyptians and drove them from the Sudan. An independent state of dervishes was formed in the Sudan which, lucky for Abyssinia, lasted for 17 years, closing Abyssinia's borders on the side of Egypt and closing Galla lands from English eyes. The fact that these lands belonged to Ethiopia contributed to that.
During those 17 years, many important events took place in Abyssinia, the like of which only happen in a thousand years. Atye Yohannes became Emperor of Ethiopia, and he, with the help of God, succeeded in uniting the Ethiopian Empire. In the north of Ethiopia, a new enemy appeared -- Italy. And from the west, dervishes pressed. Over the course of his reign, Atye Yohannes defended Ethiopia from these enemies. Negus Menelik ruled in Shoa and, directed by God, conquered Galla lands one after the other, expanding the boundaries of his kingdom.
At the death of Atye Yohannes, Atye Menelik became Emperor of Ethiopia. Then a decisive moment arose -- the impending war with Italy.
The European powers -- France England, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal -- who had possession of the Africa coast and were interested in taking possession of the interior, in order to avoid quarrels among themselves, at a congress in Brussels and Berlin (35) agreed to divide all of Africa among themselves. In agreeing to this, the powers paid absolutely no attention to the fact that Abyssinia is an Orthodox, Christian nation that has an Emperor who traces his ancestry to King David of Israel and that has laws. They put the Abyssinians on the same footing as negroes and Mohammedans and gave Ethiopia to Italy.
Russia did not take part in this meeting and was outraged at this decision, but not having possessions in Africa and not having direct communication with Ethiopia, Russia could not do anything about it.
As soon as the agreement was arrived at, Italy started to implement its plan to invade Abyssinia. With this aim, Italy began to assemble and organize a native army, hiring Somali's, Danakils, Arabs, and Abyssinians, and teaching them military formations. With these troops, they moved on Tigre, ousted Ras Mangasha from his possessions and seized Asmara, Keren, Adigrat, Adwa, Makale, and Amba Alagi. Th Italians entered into relations with several Tigrean rulers and attracted Khogosa and Sebkhata to their side.
Jankhoy declared war on Italy. God helped Jankhoy to unite all Abyssinians as one for this fight, despite the attempts of Italy, which was trying to foment discord among your leaders. When Jankhoy went to Tigre, he had 150,000 men. The Italians had 30,000 men, of which 10,000 were native troops.
With the help of God, Jankhoy destroyed his enemies at Adwa. Nonetheless, you remember how difficult it was for you and your troops at the time of this war. Grain reserves were depleted in the region. And if the war had continued for another few months, your army would have had nothing to eat. This necessitated that you take the Italian fortresses or attack the Italians at positions that they had strongly prepared for war or that you retreat from Tigre. The last of these choices would have been tantamount to defeat.
Jankhoy knows that it is difficult to take fortresses without artillery and knows how dangerous it is to attack Europeans at positions they have prepared for battle. At such positions, the terrain is cleared for firing at marksmanship distances and artillery batteries are located such that they can in the shortest time destroy an army of superior strength if it attacks without having prepared for the attack with artillery fire, without having knocked out the enemy batteries.
Jankhoy remembers too how well the 7000 Bazuks (native troubles) under General Alberton fought, holding fast against Jankhoy's army and inflicting heavy losses. Who knows what the outcome of that battle would have been if Alberton had had not 7000 but 30,000 Bazuks?
But God muddled the thinking of the clever and weakened the strength of the strong. The Italians, rather than waiting for Jankhoy at their positions, sallied forth to meet you, hoping to catch you by surprise in your camp, assuming that most of your army was foraging and that the main leaders were in church on the occasion of a holiday. Victory over Italy gave Abyssinia its independence back.
After that, Jankhoy conquered Aussa, Ugraden, Kaffa, Boraa, Fasokl, and Beni-Shangul, and herecently told the English Ambassador Rodd that he considers his boundaries two degrees and 14 degrees northern latitude, the shores of the Indian Ocean and the course of the Nile.
During your reign begins to be fulfilled the prophecy for Abyssinia that "the time will come again when it will once again own the lands that were owned by Menelik I (36) and David." But for that prophecy to become true, Abyssinia must defeat the last enemy that threatens its independence. This enemy is England.
After the dervishes drove the Anglo-Egyptians from the Sudan, the English, staying in Egypt, waited for the right time to once again conquer the Sudan. They waited twelve years and prepared for that and finally five years ago a 25,000-man Anglo-Egyptian army under General Kitchener moved on the Sudan.
Jankhoy knows how carefully and gradually the English army acted, how they moved forward in pace with the building of the railway, how cleverly they entered into relations with the dervishes and with bribery and promises lured many Arab leaders to their side.
The army in the field consisted almost entirely of Egyptians. The English regiments were only a small part of it. The senior officers of the Egyptian troops were English.
Jankhoy likewise heard about the battle of Khartoum, where the army of the Caliph was destroyed by English artillery and never even got close enough for a rifle shot to reach the English. The English only lost a hundred men in that battle. Jankhoy also knows that as soon as Khartoum was taken, the English detachment appeared almost immediately on the borders of Abyssinia and took Metama, Faskol, and Nsyr, and an English detachment from Uganda moved on Lake Rudolph.
Now, while the English have left Metama, they are staying in Famaka, they are greatly strengthening their position in Nasyr, and, under the pretext of unrest in the Somali steppes, they are approaching Harar and plan to build a fortified camp at a distance of four days march from Harar.
All this shows that the English intend not just to conquer the Sudan and build a railway to Uganda. The real objective of the English is to take from Abyssinia all of the Galla lands that belong to it, and to turn over Shoa, Godzham and Tigre to Italy.
Perhaps, the Jankhoy has advisors who tell you that England does not want war with Abyssinia and seeks a peaceful settlement with Abyssinia. Perhaps, these advisors tell Jankhoy that England strives only to possess the Sudan, and in the interest of trade benefits it intends to build a railway from Egypt to Mombasa.
Take notice, Jankhoy, that these advisors either don't understand what's going on or knowingly lie, having been bribed by English and Italian gold.
Jankhoy knows that the Sudan is a poor country, Mohammedan, with little water, largely desert, with intense heat and an unhealthy climate. Jankhoy also knows that the conquest of the Sudan cost England many millions of rubles. So were these millions spent just to take possession of a desert which is so hot that Abyssinians would never willingly agree to live there? Right beside scorching-hot Sudan rise the wonderful Ethiopian mountains, rich in water, vegetation, cattle, coffee, bread, honey, and cotton, with a wonderful climate in which Europeans could live and work.
Do you really think that England expended so much money and effort so that they can, from the sterile Sudanese steppes, look up at the wonderful Ethiopian mountains?
You know that England wants to extend a railway from Khartoum to the coast of Zanzibar. Currently, the railway has only reached as far as Khartoum. From there it should go up along the Blue Nile to Rozeyros, and from Roseyros head straight to Nasyr. At Nasyr, they will build a large railway bridge across the Juba River, and from there the Railway will go to connect with the railway branch from Mombasa.
At first, the English wanted to take the railway up the Nile at Lado. But it turned out that above the confluence of the Sobat and the Nile, there lies an impassable swamp. Therefore, the English sent a party of explorers to inspect the route from Nasyr to the southern end of Lake Rudolph. One of these explorers was Welby, who with the permission of Jankhoy set out from Addis Ababa to Lake Rudolph, went to its southern extremity and from there went through Turkana land to Nasyr on the Juba River, and from there by steamboat to Khartoum. This research determined that it is possible to extend a railway from Nasyr to Lake Rudolph.
In my opinion, the best and easiest route for the railway is the valley of the Juba River, along which the army of Dadyamatch Tesemma went on its way to the Nile. Following the valley of this river, the railway could be brought to Menu (66 degrees north latitude and 35 degrees east longitude from Greenwich). From Menu to Kaffa is an eight-day march. From Menu the railway could go through Turkana lands to the southern extermity of Lake Rudoph. It is well known which route the English government says it chose, but it is more likely that they will go for exact the route I am describing.
Thus, the railway proposed by the English will run for more than 1000 kilometers from Rozeyros on the Nile to Lake Rudolph, close to the borders of Ethiopia, and partly in Ethiopia itself. The building of one kilometer of railway costs at least 40,000 thousand thalers. Along that 1000-kilometer route from Roseyros to Lake Rudolph, three quarters lie in the desert. Only the valleys of the Sobat and Juba Rivers are thickly populated by negroes.
The English claim that they are building the railway for commercial benefit. Ask yourself, what kind of trade can be found in the desert at a cost of 40 million thalers for construction. Also ask yourself, how the English could build a railway so close to the borders of Ethiopia and partly on Ethiopian soil, Jankhoy, without fearing that at the first collision between England and Abyssinia Jankhoy could quickly destroy it.
It is probable that England has no such fear that because it will soon become master of Abyssinia. It has decided to take on such enormous expenses because it hopes to cover them not with trade in the desert, but with the wealth of Ethiopia.
My allegations about the hostile plans of England would have already come true if it had not been for the war in Transvaal. But this is only a temporary, chance delay in the execution of English plans. Transvaal is too small a state to be able to fight for long against England. It is almost without doubt that England will come out the winner, unless some extraordinary obstacle should get in the way. There are only 250,000 inhabitants in Transvaal, including old men, women, and children. There are no more than 50,0000 men capable of bearing arms. England has already assembled more than 100,0000 men against Transvaal and can, if needed, add still more. As soon as England finishes with Transvaal, it will turn its attention against Abyssinia. While waiting for the end of that war, England will try to maintain friendship with Jankoy. Therefore, it is very probable that the English ambassador Harrington who is now on his way to Addis Ababa will bring Jankhoy peaceful proposals from England. England, maybe, will even agree to make concessions to Jankhoy if you present him with your demands. Perhaps England will even agree to give Jankhoy a written promise that it will respevt the inviolability of your present borders. But, Jankhoy, do not be deceived by this! The friendly assurances of England will only last as long as England is not ready for war. As soon as it is ready, England will find a pretext to break its commitments.
To the friendly assurances of England, Jankhoy should answer with friendly words, but not give any commitments to the English government nor to private English companies. The establishment of private foreign companies in your country is very dangerous. An example of this is right in front of your eyes. War broke out in Transvaal because of English companies extracting gold. God postponed for a minute the time for its decisive fight between Abyssinia and England. Take advantage of this, Jankhoy, and prepare for that fight, which is inevitable. Remember the parable of the ten wise virgins and the ten foolish ones and be prepared.
The English are surrounding Ethiopia from three sides, and from Kassaly to the Indian Ocean stretches an uninterrupted strip of their possessions.
Ask yourself, what direction is the most likely to expect the English to attack, what forces can they muster, what are their most likely plans of action, and what measures must you take, Jankhoy?
From my preceding letter, Jankhoy can be convinced that England intends to invade Ethiopia. The taking of the Sudan is only a preliminary step to that.
Knowing the condition, the numbers and the disposition of the military forces of Ethiopia, having acquainted myself with its western borders on my last trip, I am convinced that Ethiopia is completely open to an enemy invasion from the direction of the Sudan and is not at all prepared for war with the English.
England surrounds Ethiopia from three sides and can at the same time advance from the Sudan, from Berber, and from Uganda. In the Sudan they can muster for war with Abyssinia an army of 75,000 with 200 artillery guns. In Uganda and Berber troops can be sent from India. England, without burdening India, can muster in both Uganda and Berber detachments of 5000 with 15 to 20 artillery guns each. The main core of the 75,000 strong Sudanese army consists of native troops, the organization of which is already in place.
On taking Khartoum, all the captured dervishes were turned into soldiers. Marchand, who was at Khartoum, saw how they were trained and confirmed that already then there were 25,000 of them.
According to information that I gathered, the English are recruiting new soldiers in Beni-Shangul, hiring all runaway slaves. And many Abyssinians are joining them as well. In addition, the English intend to recruit solders from among the negro tribes in the thickly populated lower reaches of the Sobat River and along the banks of the Nile. From them the English could put together a splendid army.
If the English have really assembled an army of 25,000 natives in the Sudan, then in a few years that number will rise to 50,000, and then the English will not have to send troops from England to wage war with Abyssinia. 50,000 Sudanese and 25,000 Egyptians will suffice.
From the Sudan they can advance on Abyssinia by three routes.
1. From Khartoum to Metama and Gondar.
2. From Khartoum up the Blue Nile to Abu-Khamed, Famaka, Beni-Shangul, Fasokl and Addis Ababa.
3. From Khartoum by the White Nile to Fashoda by the Sobat River to Nasyr, by the Baro River to the lands of Dajazmatch Joti, to Wollaga, Leka and Addis Ababa.
The route to Metama is not the main goal of the English. Rather they want to acquire all of the Galla lands. An offensive along that route would be made difficult by the fact that a large army requires huge transport for supplies, and a railway can only be built as far as Metama. It is impossible to take it further. An enormous pack train would be required, with no less than 50,000 mules for a 50,000-man army. Camels are no good in the mountains. Finally, it would be very difficult for an English army to fight in mountainous Abyssinia, rather than in flat Galla lands.
Therefore, the main force of the English will not head to Metama. Rather they will send a small Sudanese detachment of 3000 to 4000 men, with several artillery guns. Several thousand Arab volunteers will join this detachment. The aim of this action will be to scare the Abyssinians and to keep Ras Mangashu Bituaded in Gondar with his army. If few troops remain in Gondar or, God forbid, if Jankhoy's army is defeated in another place, then the English will attack Gondar.
The offensive route along the Blue Nile is also not good for the main action against Abyssinia. The Blue Nile is navigable only to Abu-Kahmeda. From Abu-zkhameda to Fasokl is five days' march. From Fasokl to Beni-Shangul is five days' march. From Beni-Shangul to Addis Ababa is 32 days' march. All together from Addis Ababa to Abu-khameda is 42 days' march, considering one day's march to be equal to 20 kilometers. The River Baro is navigable from the mouth of the Gobi River and from there to Addis Ababa is 25 day's march. Therefore. it will be closer and better for the English to attack Abyssinia by the Baro River, rather than the Abay. They can, however, advance one detachment of 2000 to 3000 men on the Gubu to threaten Gojjam and another detachment with the same strength on Beni-Shangul, and a third detachment of that strength to Famaka to support the first two detachments.
The best route for the main action against Abyssinia is the Baro River.
Having 75,000 men in the Sudan, leaving 5000 there for internal security, assigning auxiliary detachments ni Beni-Shangu, Gubu, Metama and Famaka totaling 15,000 men, the English could move against Abyssinia by way of the Baro River with 55,000 men.
The western regions of Ethiopia, lying to the south of the Abay River and to the north of the Baro River are divided into three parts by the Didessa, Gaba, Birbir and Dabus Rivers.
The Gaba River separate Ilu-Babur from Wollaga. The 10,000 man army of Dajazmatch Tesemma is located in Ilu-Babur. The 7000 men of Dadyzmatch Demissew are stationed in Wollaga. In Leka, on the right bank of the Didessa River is found the permanent residence of Dajazmatch Demissew, the main leader of all the western regions of Ethiopia. Here are stationed 5000 of his soldiers, including 1200 gondars (in the city of Lekamti). In the mountains on the left bank of the Abay River, to the north of Wollaga, stretches in a ribbon the possessions of Dajazmatch Gabro-Egziabeer (a Galla overlord), who has about 4000 Galla soldiers armed with rifles. The Birbir River separates Wollaga from the possessions of Dajazmatch Joti (a Galla overlord). Dajazmatch Joti has about 3000 Gallas armed with rifles. There are no Abyssinian troops stationed in his country. To the northwest of Joti's lands lies the Arab lands: Sheikh Khodzholi in the land of Tsotso, Fituarari Mohameda in Komash, and Dajazmatch Abdurrakhman in Beni-Shangul. The Dabus River separates Tsotso and Beni-Shangul from the possessions of Dajazmatch Egiabeer. In Beni-Sangul and Komash are located two small detachments of Dajazmatch Demissew, each detachment with 50 men. The leader of the first is Kanyazmatch Isheti-Buna, and the leader of the second is Fitaurari Guge-latu.
All of the above-mentioned rivers are impassable by ford in the dry season, but from the beginning of the rainy season they can with difficulty be crossed by swimming, and at that time the Birbir River completely isolates the land of Joti from Wollaga. In addition, the main leader of the entire western region, Dajazmatch Demissew, is separated from his western lands by the Didessa River, that also can only with great difficulty be crossed by swimming. Thus, during the rainy season, the semi-independent Galla land of Joti, not occupied by Abyssinian troops, and newly conquered Arab lands, very weakly occupied by Abyssinians are completely cut off from the rest of Ethiopia and from their leader. In addition, the land of Joti is adjacent to the navigable Baro River and is therefore completely open to hostile invasion.
At the beginning of the rainy season, an English detachment of several thousand men will go up the Baro River on barges and gunboats and will land at the mouth of the Gaba River and, without hindrance, will take over the entire right bank of the Birbir River.
The occupation of Fashoda and Nasyr serves as proof that the English actually do intend to advance on the offensive. The English are strengthening both of those points, especially Nasyr, where they are constructing large warehouses for food and military supplies, in order to be able to deliver all these articles to Abyssinia in time of war with it. From Fashoda to Nasyr is a seven-day trip by steamboat. From Nasyr to the mouth of the Gaba River takes five to six days by steamboat. If the English didn't have warehouses in Fashoda and Nasyr, then they would have to carry all their supplies straight from Khartoum to Joti's land. In that case, a steamboat having set out from Khartoum to the Gaba River would go back to Khartoum for the next load one and a half months later. This would slow down transport far too much, and therefore the English are assembling, well in advance, everything that they will need for war with Abyssinia at Nasyr which lies just five days from the mouth of the Gaba. When war starts, the role of steamboats will be in part to carry the army between Khartoum and Fashoda, and in part between Fashoda and Nasyr, but their main role will be to carry the army between Nasyr and the mouth of the Gaba River. Right now, the English have twelve gunboats and 200 barges. In case of war, they will increase that number as much as they need to carry from Khartoum to the mouth of the Gaba River a 55,000 strong army with artillery, transport and food supplies for a year. In view of this, you must keep close watch on whether and when the English increase the number of their ships on the Nile, because that will be a sure sign that war is near.
Each barge can hold up to a hundred men. One gunboat can pull ten barges. Consequently, if they were to work only eighty barges and eight gunboats between Nasyr and Gaba, then every twelve to fourteen days they could deliver to the mouth of the Gaba 6000 men with corresponding transport and guns.
Let's suppose that at the end of July a 6000 to 7000-man English detachment with its artillery and transport disembarks at the mouth of the Gaba River. Let's suppose it leaves a small detachment of 100 to 200 men at the landing site and moves up the Birbir River to Lalo or Ayra.
The distance from Ayra to the mouth of the Gaba is 100 kilometers or five days' march. The terrain is flat, easy for building a road for wheeled vehicles or a railway. Having moved forward part of their force and having taken Ayra, the rest of the detachment will follow the vanguard, which is making the road. Every twenty kilometers they will build a fortification, and they will leave there a detachment of 100 to 200 men, to protect the road and to escort the transport. At each fortification, they will install optical telegraphy, and at the mouth of the Gaba River they will install ordinary and underwater telegraphy to Nasyr.
On the sixth day from setting out from the mouth of the Gaga River, the vanguard English detachment will take Ayra, and then every twelve days new troops and transport will arrive. The summit of Ayra and the terrain around it can be easily fortified. It is probable that the English will choose this place for their fortified camp.
Ayra is a very convenient place for building a fortified camp. It is located on a hilly elevation which separates the Dabus and Birbir Rivers and stretching from Mount Walela to Mount Sibu. The main road from Wallaga and Sibu to the land of Joti passes through Ayra. The terrain is hilly but open. There is lots of water, grass, and fuel. They will set up the main camp around the hill. There they will build warehouses for food and military supplies. Around the camp they will build fortifications from which they will be able to fire artillery at all who approach, Trenches for shooters will be dug between the fortifications. Detached units will be sent to the Birbir River, to the country between Mandi and Sibu and to the city of Gedama. They will occupy all the crossings on the Birbir River and all the roads leading from Wollaga and Sibu to the land of Joti, using the most accurate map of the area and selecting locations that are close to Ayra on the main roads in the land of Joti and where the English will be able to most conveniently meet Jankhoy and fight him.
Once they occupy Ayra, the English will completely separate the land of Joti and Beni-Shangul from Ethiopia.
Dajazmatch Joti, having in all 3000 to 4000 rifles, will not be able to resist the English. At first the English will leave him alone. But as soon as they establish themselves in Ayra, a detachment of several thousand men will move on Gedama and to force Joti to submit; or if he does not submit, they will ravage his entire country and destroy all its grain reserves. If Joti joins the English, then they will demand that he build fortifications in inaccessible places, in order that, in case Jankhoy invades his land, women and children will be able to take cover there and grain supplies will be stored there. The English will willingly arm the Gallas with rifles and give them small detachments with artillery for defense of the fortifications. There should be no doubt that the Gallas will be on the side of the English. First of all, because the English will not offend or rob them, and will on the contrary give them money, rifles, and cartridges. Secondly, foreseeing the invasion of their land by Jankhoy, they will not doubt that inevitable destruction awaits them, and that only the English can save them from that or ease their lot.
In any case, whether by agreement or by force, the English will destroy all the grain reserves in Joti's land, and Jankhoy arriving there will find no food for his army.
At the same time that the main English force occupies Ayra, other detachments of theirs will appear at Metama, Guba, Fasokl, Beni-Shangula, Lake Rudolph, and near Harar.
What a position Jankhoy will find himself in at the outbreak of war.
Jankhoy will first learn of the disembarkation of the English in the land of Joti two weeks after it has happened. The leaders of the adjoining regions -- Dajazmatch Demissew and Dajazmatch Tesemma -- will only receive the corresponding orders from Jankhoy a month after the disembarkation. Consequently Dajazmatch Demissew will only be able to go to the land of Joti no sooner than five weeks, and Dajazmatch Tesemma no sooner than seven weeks after the occupation of Ayra by the English.
At this time of year, the Birbir and Dabus Rivers can be crossed with difficulty by swimming, and crossing them will be made significantly more difficult by the fact that all the crossings will be protected by English artillery. Besides, having at their disposal a 30,000-man army, the English will not allow into the land of Joti Dajazmatches Demissew and Tesemma who only have 20,000 rifles.
At the same time that Jankhoy learns of the English invasion on the Baro River, he will also receive news of English incursions at Metama, Gubu, Kaffa, Beni-Shangul and Harar. The English offensive on all sides will make a strong impression on the Abyssinians and will interfere with Jankhoy's ability to assemble his entire army for action against the main English detachment. Ras Mangash Bituaded will have to stay in Gondar with his 15,000-man army.
The Tigreans seeing that the English press on them from all sides, will hardly leave Tigre to help Jankhoy. That will reduce your strength by 15,000 men.
The Gojjamy, threatened from the side of Guba, will stay in Gojjam. negus Tekla Haymanot has 15,000 to 20,000 rifles.
Ras Wolde Georgis will have to stay in Kaffa with nine thousand men.
The army of Harar, about fifteen thousand men, will stay in Harar.
No less than 7000 to 8000 should stay in the southeastern territories and as many again in Addis Ababa for defense of the capital and interior regions.
Consequently, if Jankhoy thinks he has an army of 300,000 men, in fact for a campaign to the land of Joti he will only be able to muster 200,000 men.
If Jankhoy, having learned about the English offensive, quickly calls for a muster of his army, then, taking into account the rainy season, the army will only be able to assemble by the middle of September, and Jankhoy will be able to approach the land of Joti no sooner than the middle of October.
The main task for Jankhoy will be to supplant the English from the land of Joti. But will Dzhankho be in a position to accomplish this directly, in other words to go after the English and smash them where he finds them?
To attack the English at their fortified positions, not having artillery for that, is almost impossible.
But perhaps Dzhankho hopes to attack the English by surprise or at night? The English will certainly watch out very carefully, and at night will not only protect themselves with guards, but will illuminate the surrounding area with electrical lights, and will surround their camp with barbed wire ...
Jankhoy will not be able to supplant the English from Ayra. But in war there are other ways to force the enemy to retreat. It is possible to cut the enemy's communications and in this way stop delivery of food supplies. When the enemy does not have enough food, then a threat to cut communications can force the enemy to retreat.
It is also possible to force the enemy to retreat by threatening to go around him and attack land that lies to his rear that he prizes. The Abyssinian army does not have to keep in touch with a distant country and is as much faster and more mobile than a European army as cavalry is faster than infantry. Therefore, going around the English without engaging them in battle and breaking through to Beni-Shangul or the land of Joti wouldn't be difficult for Jankhoy. But would he in this way force the English to retreat or would they abandon their positions and look for a fight? If the English decide to chase Jankhoy, they will inevitably perish. But they know the advantages of the Abyssinians and will not fall into that trap, especially since your invasion of Beni-Shangul and the land of Joti would not threaten them., and they won't have the strength to prevent it. The only thing that Jankhoy can do by breaking into those regions is to ravage them, to supplant the garrison in Beni-Shangul, and then, having exhausted food supplies, go back, having lost much livestock and taking away many sick.
Neither by force not cunning will Jankhoy supplant the English, since their main advantage consists in the fact that when Jankhoy exhausts his food supplies, the English feel no lack of food because they stocked up during the rainy season.
Because of a food shortage, Jankhoy will not be able to conduct war against the English for long. The longest duration for which you can keep all your troops assembled is from one rainy season to the next. But in Wollaga there is not enough food for a 200,000-man army even for that long. This year Dajazmatch Demissew collected from all of his possessions a tithe of thirty thousand dauls (a daul equals about 5 poods) [180 pounds]. From that fact it follows that the entire grain harvest in his lands equaled 300,000 dauls [57 million pounds]. Every soldier in this 200,000-man army requires one and a half dauls [270 pounds] from the entire grain supply of the western region. One and a half dauls can sustain one man for six months. But in reality, in the Abyssinian army, the number of mouths is two to three times more than the number of rifles, andduring requisitions much grain is wasted and also much is hidden. Finally, it is impossible to gather all the grain of entire region. Therefore the Abyssinians, having finally broken into Wollaga, wouldn't be able to stay there longer than two or three months.
Setting up delivery from other regions under the existing conditions will be impossible, and when food supplies are exhausted, Jankhoy will have to quickly retreat and at the beginning of the rainy season dissolve a large part of his army.
What will prevent the English from then moving to the Didessa River and occupying Wollaga?
Having established themselves on the left bank of the Didessa River, the English will easily supplant Dajazmatch Tesemma from Ilu-Babur, they will occupy Gera, Gumu, Gomu and attract to their side Aba-Dzhefar, the King of Jimma. Ras Wolde Georgis will then be cut off from Shoa, will be threatened simultaneously from the direction of Lake Rudolph, and will be obliged to abandon Kaffa.
The Galla population of Wollaga, ravaged by the Abyssinians, will turn to the English as their saviors and will gladly join them. The English will arm the Gallas and in the following year will move them ahead of themselves to Shoa. The longer the war continues, the greater the English forces will increase and the weaker will become the forces of Jankhoy. In the second year of war, Jankhoy will only be able to assemble for defense of his country half of his former army. When the English occupy Wollaga, the Ethiopian Empire will be as good as dead.
Forgive me Jankhoy for this frightening picture.
God forbid that it happen like that!
But you know the truth of my words, that Ethiopia is not at all prepared for conflict with England and is not at all ready for an attack from it.
Don't think, Jankhoy, that you can avoid the danger by means of a peace agreement with England and by concessions to their demands. The English are not satisfied with concessions. They will present new demands. For example, the English also present demands to France and Italy ... Jankhoy should keep in mind the examples of China and India which were once a hundred times more powerful than Ethiopia.
Therefore, if Jankhoy wants to preserve the independence of Ethiopia, war with England is unavoidable. If you do not destroy your enemy, your enemy will destroy you.
God anointed you king, Jankhoy. He gave you good fortune and wisdom, uniting under your control the diverse pieces of Ethiopia, and by your arms attached to it large new regions to give you the strength to prevail over a mortal enemy at a decisive moment of struggle.
Now, the Lord once again shows his mercy to Ethiopia, as shown by the outbreak of the Transvaal War, which gives Jankhoy time to prepare.
You ordered me to report to you about threats to Abyssinia and about the measures that are necessary to undertake. Those measures are now clear.
The main advantage of the English now consists in the fact that the Baro River provides easy access to Abyssinia, that the land of Joti does not have Abyssinian troops, that that territory during the rainy season is completely isolated form the rest of Ethiopia, that the leader in charge of the western border and his troops are too far from the border, that Jankhoy does not have swift communication with his western ands, that there are not enough food supplies to conduct a war, and that Jankhoy does not have either artillery or a regular army.
But if access to the Baro River were shut down for the English, if Dajazmatch Demesy and his troops were located in the land of Joti, and he could meet the English in the first days after their disembarkation, if Jankhoy were in a position to quickly learn about what is happening on the borders and to quickly issue orders, if Jankhoy were to gather the food supplies his army needs, (at least enough for a year), then an invasion of Joti's land has little hope of success and the English plan to easily conquer Abyssinia will fail.
Therefore, I advise Jankhoy to take the following defensive measures:
1. occupy the valley of the Baro River with troops and shut down the Baro above Nasyr.
The right bank of the Baro River is a lowland populated by the Yambo and Dink negro tribes. Dajazmatch Joti considers these tribes to be his subjects, but, in reality, they do not belong to anyone.
At two to three days' march from the Baro River to the north rise the mountains of Walel, populated by Gallas. These mountains belong to Dajazmatch Joti. On their southern slopes on the side toward the Baro River, are located two regions -- Afilo and Dae -- governed by Balambaras Nuro, a son of Joti.
I advise that Jankhoy split off these two regions and the valley of the Baro River and assign them to a separate leader, that you give him command of a detachment of a 1000 men, which should suffice for Afilo and Dae. Stationed on the mountains that rise above the valley of the Baro River, this force can split off a small detachment of 100 to 150 men, which would be stationed on the banks of the Baro River, where it flows into the Garoe Rive or even lower in its course, so that it is a seven or eight day march from Afilo. From this detachment a separate observation post with thirty to fifty men could move toward Nasyr itself to keep an eye on what the English are doing. At the mouth of the Garoe or lower on the course of that river there should be built a fortification armed with artillery. From this fortification should be built an optical telegraph connection with Afilo. At this fortification warehouses for food and military supplies should be built in advance.
Several small fortifications, not occupied by troops during ordinary times, should be built between the mouth of the Garoe River and the mouth of the Gaba River.
The mouth of the Gaba River should be occupied by a small detachment. Here could be built a commercial port and from there a road could be extended into Wollaga. Jankhoy could invite the English to bring their goods there and to trade them for Abyssinian merchandise.
During peace time, the fortification at the mouth of the Garoe River will be occupied by a small detachment which should be changed each month because the climate is unhealthy.
On threat of invasion by the English, the leader of the Baro River valley region should occupy the fortification at the mouth of the Garoe River with all his troops and block the river with mines.
A mine is a box filled with dynamite. A row of such boxes is submerged in the water across the river. Each of them is connected by two wires to the shore. When one of the mines is approached by an enemy ship, then the men tending the mines on the shore joins the two wires corresponding to that mine, the dynamite in it explodes, and the boat flies into the air. There are also mines which are not connected to the shore that explode on their own when bumped by an enemy boat.
The enemy cannot go through a barrier of mines without removing the mines, and because of this they must drive back the detachment guarding the mines. To do that, the English would have to disembark lower down the river than the mine barrier and attack the fortification. For that they would have to spend lots of time and effort.
The detachment that is occupying the fortification, when it is impossible for it to hold on longer, will retreat higher on the river and fortify itself in the next fortification and in this way force the English to once again try to dislodge them from there. In this way it is possible to delay by at least a month the English invasion. When the English eventually break through to Joti's land, then the detachment that is blocking the Baro River should go down river and prevent delivery of troops and food supplies to the English, by laying mines in various places, setting up ambushes, and sinking steamboats with artillery.
2. Jankhoy should bring Dajazmatch Demissew and his army closer to the western border and increase the number of his troops.
The present residence of Dajazmatch Demissew and the larger part of his army is in Leka on the right bank of the Didessa River, ten days' march from the land of Joti and 17 days from Beni-Shangul. In Lekamti are stations four regiments of Tigreans (seven hundred men) under Fitaurari Khalu. The gondars receive rations, but the Tigreans eat off the region of Nole Kaba and ravage it.
I would advise Jankhoy to station the gondars in Gedame and the Tigreans in Chelem and to give them both rations. The residence of Dajazmatch Demissew should be moved to the land of Joti, in Lolo or Ayra. To govern Beni-Shangul and other western regions from Leka is the same as trying to govern Harar from Addis Ababa.
Thus, in the land of Joti there will be stationed 7000 rifles, including the soldiers of Joti himself. Dajazmatch Demissew will be five days' march from the Baro River and seven days from Beni-Shangul. If the English then attack Joti's land, then from the first days of their disembarkation they will have in front of them Dajazmatch Demissew with an army of 6000 to 7000 men, which in a very short time if a bridge is built over the Birbir River, could increase to 12,000 or 15,000. Constantly attacking the English and their transport, Demissew will not let the English strengthen themselves in Joti's land, or to assemble the necessary supplies. Hence, he will keep the Galla population on the side of Abyssinia.
Jankhoy may think that by taking Afilo and Dae from Joti and stationing your soldiers in his land you will deprive yourself of one of your most reliable and consistent sources of income -- taxes in gold, which Dajazmatch Joti pays you on a scale of 800 to 1000 ukets (an uket equals 27 grams). But Jankhoy should not let himself be misled by that. By moving your army to Joti's land, taking from Joti the gold tax and forcing him to pay for the salaries and the rations of the troops stationed on his land, Jankhoy not will not lower your income, but rather will increase it. A thousand ukets of gold is worth 36,000 thalers. Exchanging the gold tax for the maintenance and payment of wages of the gondars and the Tigreans, Jankhoy will gain fourteen thousand thalers. But aside from that, moving Dajazmatch Demissew from Leka to the land of Joti, Janhoy can turn Leka into his myslennat (personal property) and can take from it as much income as he now gets from the entire land of Joti.
3. Jankhoy must build a telegraph connection between Addis Ababa and the western borders. Ordinary telegraph costs too much, often breaks, and requires guarding the lines. I would advise Jankhoy to use optical telegraphy.
To set up communications between Addis Ababa, Lalo and Gori requires the installation of ten apparatuses in the following places: 1) the palace of Dhankhoy, 2) Mount Mangash, 3) a hill on Mount Chobo, 4) the Toka pass, 5) Mount Konchi, y) Mount Roge, 7) the city of Nole-Koba, 8) Lalo, 9) Mount Guracho, 10) the city of Gore. Consequently, it will be necessary to buy twelve apparatuses (including two spares) and to hire ten telegraphers. Each apparatus together with transportation charges will cost about 400 thalers. Telegraphers can be hired for 50 thalers a month with an allowance for food and clothing from Jankhoy. Abysinians should be taught telegraphy and in a year the number of European telegraphers can be halved.
Setting up the telegraph lines on arrival of the telegraphers and the apparatus in Addis Ababa should take no more than two months. the total cost of telegraphy in the first year should come to about twenty thousand thalers. In the second year, the maintenance of the telegraph should cost about five to six thousand thalers.
4. Jankhoy needs to build permanent bridges across the Didessa, Gibye, Dobanu, Birbir and Dabus Rivers.
5. Jankhoy needs to build warehouses for food and ammunition in the land of Joti and in Wollaga.
At the present time, the tithe is kept at the farmsteads by the heads of the land sections (aba koro). This is the wrong way to store state-owned grain.
Warehouses should be built in specially designated places.
These granaries should be made of stone, solidly built, with trenches dug around them like a moat, surrounded by an earthen wall and protected by special guards. The chief of such a storehouse should be responsible for the inviolability of the grain. Warehouses for ammunition in Joti's land and in the region of Nole-Koba should be built so Jankhoy does not have to bring ammunition with him on campaign. They should be located close to the scene of military action. If Jankhoy finds it too dangerous to store ammunition in Joti's land, then this could be limited to just one storehouse in Nole-Koba. Nole-Koba is a very convenient place to build a storehouse, namely because of the difficult-to-access rocky mountain Tulu Zhirgo. Those are the defensive measures that I recommend that Dzhanihoy carry out, without delay. By taking those measures, you will prevent the English from carrying out their present plans for an easy conquest of Abyssinia. Then they would have to resort to other more difficult tactics, such as building a railway and increasing the number of troops. In other words, they would have to expend far more means and forces on it. Nonetheless, the English will not give up on something they have once decided to do. Sooner or later, by one means or another, they will accomplish it.
Therefore, Jankhoy should not limit himself to just defensive measures.
If a leopard appears near your house and by night carries off sheep, do you defend yourself from him by blocking his ways in and raising a fence? Won't he keep doing it and won't he find a new way in? If you want to get rid of him, you have to find his lair and kill him there. That's what you have to do with the English. However much you strengthen your borders, you will not be secure until you defeat them in their lair -- the Sudan.
But to do that, you need to have an obedient army, arrange for artillery, prepare food supplies and medical dressings, choose the route of the offensive and reconnoiter it.
You don't ward off an attacking enemy with a shield alone. When defending yourself, you need to have a shield in one hand and in the other a saber or a spear.
Jankhoy will not be able to defend himself from England with just defensive measures.
Take the example of Transvaal. When the Boers knew that war with England was unavoidable, they attacked the English first, not giving them the ability to prepare or to transport troops. Jankhoy also should use this opportune time to demand that the English clear out of Nasyr and Famaka, and in case of refusal, he should move on the Sudan.
I do not know to what degree you are prepared and to what degree what I say corresponds to your calculations, but, in any case, now is a remarkably favorable time for this action.
If Jankhoy prefers to wait for further events to unfold and to prepare more thoroughly for the fight with England in the Sudan, then he should take the following steps:
1) build a regular army and artillery,
2) reconnoiter the route to the Sudan,
3) gather food supplies on the western borders.
Jankhoy's army, by his own words, is 300,000-men strong. Part of it consists of the troops of individual rulers. Jankhoy's own army amounts to no more than 60,00 men. The main problem with the Abyssinian army is the existence of independent armies of separate rulers and soldiers of private individuals. These soldiers do not consider themselves to be defenders of the throne and the fatherland. Rather they see themselves as servants of the individuals they are attached to. They do not swear by the name of Menelik but rather swear by the names of their lords. Therefore, Jankhoy can only rely on those troops as far as you can trust their leaders. You can only completely rely on your own troops. The greater part of the soldiers of the separate rulers, especially in the border territories, consist of Gallas and slave negroes. These soldiers in the majority of circumstances should not even be called "soldiers, but rather "carriers of rifles" since they don't know how to shoot their rifles. One day I saw three such young men fire their rifles at one negro, who was coming at them with spear in hand. I also saw how two of such young men shot from their knees at a negro who was kneeling in front of them and begging for mercy and both soldiers missed. And they were less than fifteen steps away from that negro.
But it is possible to make these "carriers of rifles" into excellent soldiers.
Now, each leader, no matter how small, tries to assemble for himself as many ashkers as possible in order to have as large a retinue of followers as possible to satisfy their vanity. Even a common soldier gets himself a boy to carry his rifle and shield for him.
The biggest leaders strive to build their reputations and thereby attract to them as many more ashkers as they can, so they can ruin their own lands with feasts and gifts to their soldiers. Such troops do not serve Jankhoy and are of no use to the state, though they are maintained and fed by the state.
The arrogance of the shums (37) eats the land.
At first glance it may seem that those soldiers cost you very little.
Actually, those soldiers who are "kalebtanya" (receiving rations) in addition to a grain ration receive three thalers a year in salt and five to ten thalers of salary, and besides also receive gifts in the form of mules, horses, donkeys, decorations, etc.
Those soldiers who are "melkanya" have plots of land with not less than five peasant families from whom they collect an annual tax in grain, honey, and livestock to a value of not less than 25 thalers. (Officers have several hundred peasant families each).
But you will be disappointed by the following analysis. In Leka and Wollaga there are no less than 100,000 peasant families. If each family takes annually only one gundo of honey with a value of three thalers, then Leka and Wollaga should give more than 300,000 thalers per year in income. In actuality, they produce much more income. In Leka and Wollaga 10,000 soldiers of Jankhoy are stationed. The income of these lands does not suffice for their maintenance, so Jankhoy sends annually not less than 50,000 thalers in salaries. Consequently, each soldier in Wollaga costs Jankhoy more than 35 thalers. That's the state of affairs in the other regions of Ethiopia as well.
Therefore, I advise Jankhoy to reduce the number of private troops of separate leaders, banning them from having more than a certain number of their own askhers. For example, a dajazmatch might be allowed to have 300 to 500 of his own askers, a Fitaurari a 100 to 3000, and lesser leaders from 30 to 100.
I would likewise advise you to take away from the separate leaders the right to grant ranks and awards and assign that right exclusively to youself, based on the suggestions of the leaders. Because of the present practice there are more kanyazmatches and gerazmatches in Abyssinia tha there are common soldiers.
By reducing the number of soldiers attached to separate leaders, Jankhoy would increase the number of his own troops, since unemployed ashkers will, for the most part, go into service for Jankhoy.
To prevent Abyssinians from hiring themselves out to foreigners and serving neighboring governments, I would advise taking the following measures:
Assess all servants of foreigners a tax of one thaler a month, twelve thalers a year.
Do not let Abyssinians cross an Abyssinian border without a passport.
Appoint consuls in Khartoum, Massawa, Jibouti and Zela, whose responsibilities include keeping an eye on Abyssinians who arrive there. If among those arriving some do not have passports, then the consul by way of the local authorities should send them back to their homeland.
I would also advise Jankhoy to gradually separate the governing of regions from the command of troops.
The leader of a region could be a meslanye (governor), who collects taxes, holds court, metes out punishment, and distributes food supplies to the troops stationed in the region. Taxes and court fees should go to the treasury, but the treasury should send salary to the troops of the meslanye. The leader of the military unit in the region would serve as a check the actions of the meslanye.
You cannot immediately implement this measure, since that would cause the general dissatisfaction of the leaders. But in regions where a leader died or voluntarily retired, you should specially appoint separate individuals to serve governor of the region and commander of the troops. This way Jankhoy can significantly increase his income and, with the funds obtained that way, you can build an excellent army from the conquered Gallas and negroes.
There are now much more than a million Gallas and negroes under the rule of Jankhoy. Each family consists of no less than five men, and among the Gallas even more. If Jankhoy decides to take as a soldier one young man from every 50 families each year, then in ten years, he could recruit a 200,000-man army. The recruitment would probably present no difficulty. The most difficult task would probably be to develop enough good leaders and to find the means to maintain this army.
Jankhoy told me that he wants to build his own regular army. I advised him that when forming this army he should proceed as follows. In the first year, he should collect 700 Gallas, 600 negroes, 300 Kaffa, Sidamo, Kulo, and Konto, and 250 Abyssinians. The Abyssinians should be personally chosen by the Emperor from the best soldiers, since they will be intended for officer positions. From these recruits will be formed one battalion of infantry with 1100 men (400 Gallas, 500 negroes, 100 Sidamo and 100 Abyssinians; one squadron of cavalry with 150 men (100 Gallas and 50 Abyssinians); one eight-gun mountain battery (200 Sidamo and 25 Abyssinians); one engineering company including one platoon of sappers, one platoon of miners, one platoon of telegraphers and one platoon of pontooners (100 negroes, 150 Gallas, and 25 Abyssinians).
To train these units, you will need the following number of instructors.
For a battalion -- eight officers, 84 sub-officers, and four buglers or drummers.
For a squadron -- two officers, thirteen sub-officers and one trumpeter.
For a battery -- two officers, nine bombardiers, and one trumpeter.
For an engineering company -- two officers, twenty sub-officers.
In the second year, Jankhoy should collect as many recruits as in the first year. Hence one battalion, one squadron, one battery and one engineering company will develop into two battalions, two squadrons, two batteries and two engineering companies.
In the third year, if all goes well, there will be formed another eight new battalions, two squadrons, six batteries, and two engineering companies, for which he will need 9,200 recruits for infantry, 300 recruits for cavalry, 1680 recruits for artillery, and for sappers 600 recruits. All together that is about 12,000 men in the third year. In the new eight battalions, all the junior officers and sub-officers should be selected from the best people from the two battalions trained earlier. 816 such men will need to be singled out.
In the fourth and fifth years, if Jankhoy has enough resources, his new army can continue to develop, growing every year by eight battalions, one squadron, and six batterie, that is to 9,000 bayonets, 150 horses and 48 artillery guns. By the end of the fifth year Jankhoy's trained forces would equal 29,000 bayonets, 900 horses, and 160 artillery guns.
The number of troops, as I said before, will depend to a large extent on Jankhoy's resources. If his resources suffice, it will not take long to develop an army of 200,000 men.
Note. In European armies, on average, for every 1000 rifles, four artillery guns and 150 horses are needed. By my count, after five years, the army of Jankhoy could have 29,000 rifles, 160 artillery guns, and 900 horses. A large increase in artillery is needed to provide artillery to the already existing Abyssinian army. Of the twenty batteries, thirteen will be for the new and seven for the old Abyssinian army.
The formation of only a small number of cavalry units is due to the difficulty of obtaining good horses and the high cost of maintaining of cavalry units. In Abyssinia there is excellent cavalry material represented by the mounted Galla and Abyssinian militia and Jankhoy's mounted Abyssinian soldiers. If all these horsemen were assembled in a separate unit instead of being spread among the rest of the army, if they were able to act and attack in mass and undertake independent raids, separate from the infantry, they could be a formidable force.
When Jankhoy has a fully trained cavalry regiment and Abyssinians see how to manage them as cavalry, to act and attack, then it will be possible for Jankhoy, with this example, to put them into regiments to teach mounted soldiers of Jankhoy and in time of war to distribute mounted militia by way of those regiments.
In the newly formed army, infantry will be divided into the following units:
A company (neftanya ambel) has five officers, 22 sub-officers, 256 ordinary soldiers, four buglers.
A company is divided into four platoons (amsa).
An amsa has one officer, five sub-officers, 64 common soldiers.
Four companies constitute a battalion (shi amb el) which has 22 officers, 88 sub-officers, 1024 ordinary soldiers, and 17 buglers.
Four battalions make a regiment (arat shi ambel) which has 86 officers, 352 sub-officers, 4,096 ordinary soldiers, and 34 buglers. A regiment is commanded by a fitaurari, a battalion by a kanyazmatch, a company by a gerazmatch, a platoon by a balambaras. Under the regimental commander there is one balambaras to deliver messages.
The sub-officers (tuki) are divided among the companies in the following manner. The most senior of the sub-officers (yambel-tuki) is directly in charge of all the men of the company and serves as assistant to the company commander. A yamsa-tuki is directly in charge of the men of a platoon. One of the sub-officers manages the company property. In battle, the rest of the sub-officers command 16 men each.
The cavalry is divided into the following units:
A squad (farasenya ambel) has five officers, 13 sub-officers, 123 ordinary soldiers, and three trumpeters.
A squadron is divided into three platoons (amsa).
An amsa has one officer, three sub-officers, and 32 ordinary soldiers.
Four squadrons make a regiment (shi ambel) which has 22 officers, 52 sub-officers, 512 ordinary inary officers, and fourteen trumpeters. (A four-squadron regiment is preferred in the mountains over a six-squadron regiment.)
A Fitaurari commands two regiments and has as an assistant a balambaras. A kanyazmatch commands a single regiment. He too has one balambaras as an assistant. A gerazmatch commands a squadron. A balambaras commands a platoon.
Of the sub-officers of a squadron, there is one yambel-tuki (sergeant) and there are four yamsa-tuki (platoon sub-officers). One manages the property of the squadron.
The artillery is divided into:
An eight-gun mountain battery (yasymynt medph ambel) consists of six officers, sixteen bombardiers, fifty-six members of the gun crew for each gun, one hundred eighty-eight horse handlers, and three trumpeters.
A battery is divided into four platoons (khulagmedph) and a heavy train with baggage (yair guaz).
A platoon has one officer, two bombardiers, 14 members of the gun crew for each gun and 16 horse handlers.
On each gun are placed five packs:
Ten boxes of shells, each with one hundred four shells and one hundred fourteen charges. (The shells consist of 50 grenades, 50 shrapnel and 4 buckshot). The rest of the charges and shells for the battery are carried in a box train. In that are carried 200 shells and associated charges for each gun.
Altogether, a battery has 80 packs, 160 boxes of charges, 1600 hundred shells.
The echelon of boxes (yair guaz) consists of one bombardier, 14 horse handlers and transport with food supplies consisting of one bombardier, 16 horse handlers and also pack mules with one bombardier and 10 horse handlers.
Note. Italian mountain batteries are six-gun. On each gun is carried six of the battery's boxes with 74 shells each, and in the echelon of boxes 60 shells, for a total of 134 shells. By my count, on each gun in the battery and in the echelon of boxes there are 300 shells. Thus, the designated combat kit of an Italian mountain battery is more than double ours. Because of this, in the event of war you must not count on military communications. The arrangement of ordnance depots of mobile detachments and field troops will for a long time be too complicated for Abyssinia.
A Fitaurari commands eight batteries. A kanyazmach commands two batteries. A gerazmatch commands one battery. A balambaras commands a platoon and an echelon. The commanders of two batteries and eight batteries have a balambaras as an assistant.
Note. Such a division of artillery seems to me the most convenient. In the mountains, you often have to act in coordination with detachments of 1000 men, and such a detachment will have two corresponding batteries.
Four infantry regiments, consisting of 16 battalions, a cavalry regiment consisting of fur squadrons, and eight batteries consisting of 64 guns constitute a khulat elph under the leadership of a dajazmatch.
Armament, equipment, number of horses and mules.
For a battalion
Rifles with bayonets -- 1112
Rifles without bayonets (officers and buglers) -- 39
Revolvers (for officers) -- 22
Shields -- 22
Daggers -- 39
Combat set of cartridges -- 345,300
(300 per gun, which means 100 in a bandolier and 200 in the transport)
Yearly usage of cartridges for training -- 115,000
Small trench shovels -- 768
Axes -- 256
Entrenching tools -- 4 packs
Joinery, carpentry, blacksmith, locksmith tools -- 4 packs
Pharmacy -- 4 packs
Horns [bugles] -- 17 packs
Iron pans -- 128
Tin pots -- 128
Tarpaulin for buckets and water bottles, canvas for the tents of officers and sub-officers, leather for bandoliers that hold 100 cartridges each, and for pack accessories
Mules for officers, with saddles and attire -- 22
Pack mules for officers -- 28
(3 per kanyzmach, 2 per gerazmatch, 1 per balambaras)
Pack mules for sub-officers at two per platoon and one per sergeant major -- 36
Mules for the sick and weak at 15 per company (with saddles) -- 60
Pack mules for pharmacy -- 4
Pack mules for entrenching tools, etc. --8
Pack mules for cartridges (2000 cartridges per mule) -- 180
Pack mules for food supplies, biscuits for 15 days, rations dymykh (pea flour with salt and pepper) for four months
For biscuits -- 120
For rations -- 16
(One mule can carry enough biscuits for 10 men for 15 days).
Total -- 474 mules
Note. In Jankhoy's present army, a regiment of 300 men requires no less than 150 mules and horses. A regiment of 1100 men requires no less than 600 animals, not including donkeys. The number of these animals improves very little since most of them are under saddle of their owners. Each soldier of Jankhoy needs on campaign no less than 100 cartridges. By my count, 1100 men need 474 mules, which in addition to carrying officers, the weak and the sick, carry tools, pharmacy, food supplies for 15 days, rations for four months and 200 cartridges per man.
rifles without bayonets -- 149
sabers -- 149
revolvers (for officers and sub-officers) -- 18
Daggers -- 149
spears (for ordinary soldiers) -- 128
Shields (for all ranks, except trumpeters) -- 146
Battle kit of cartridges (300 per rifle) -- 44,700
(Of those 300 cartridges, 100 are carried in a bandolier and 200 with the transport).
It would be desirable to increase the number of cartridges per man for mounted troops, since a cavalryman, finding himself in constant contact with the enemy, uses up his cartridges more quickly than infantry.
Yearly expenditure of cartridges for target practice -- 12,900
Dynamite and demolition tools -- 8 packs
Entrenching, locksmith, carpenter, and blacksmith tools -- 2 packs
Iron pans -- 19
Tin pots -- 19
Tarpaulin for buckets and water-bottles; canvas for tents; leather, pack accessories, and bandoliers.
For officers (with saddles and attire) -- 10
For combatants (with saddles and attire) -- 144
For studs -- 20
Total -- 174
Pack mules for officers
Pack mules for sub-officers -- 5
For cartridges (at twelve hundred cartridges per mule) -- 38
For dynamite packs -- 8
for tools -- 2
For pharmacy -- 1
biscuits -- 21
Rations -- 4
(One mule can carry rations for seven men for fifteen days)
Total mules -- 85
For a battery
Mountain seven-centimeter gun -- 8
Boxes of charges -- 240
(A box holds 10 charges, 11 shells, 12 combat rifles and 15 exhaust pipes.)
Rifles without bayonet (for horse handlers) -- 188
Rifles for echelon officer, trumpeters, and echelon and transport bombardiers -- 11
Revolvers for officers, gun bombardiers, and gun crews -- 69
Sabers -- 269
Daggers -- 269
Spare gun-carriages -- 2
Combat shell kit
Grenades -- 1200
Shrapnel -- 1200
Buck-shot -- 32
Rockets -- 32
Ignition candles -- 32
Charges -- 2675
Combat propellers for instantaneous fuses -- 2880
Extended fuses -- 3600
Shovels -- 16
Hoes -- 15
Picks -- 15
Axes -- 14
(to be carried in box packs)
Artillery transport: spare parts, spare wheels, spare iron, smithy, tools, felt, grease, hitching posts etc., pharmacy -- all together 14 packs
Spyglass -- 1
Binoculars -- 4
Bugles -- 3
Iron pans -- 34
Tin pots -- 34
Canvas for tents; tarpaulin for buckets and water bottles' leather for bandoliers and accessories
Combat kit of rifle cartridges -- 20000
Shells and charges for training, one hundred shots per gun per year.
Rifle cartridges for training, one hundred shots per gun.
For officers to ride (with saddles) --6
For bombardiers to ride (with saddles) -- 16
For gun crews to ride (with saddles) -- 24
For box crews to ride (with saddles) -- 120
For pulling guns -- 24
For pulling boxes -- 80
For the packs of officers --10
For the packs of bombardiers -- 8
For carrying food stuff and rations -- 32
For carrying artillery transport -- 14
Total -- 334 mules
Allowance for an ordinary soldier for a year
Flour or grain at 8 kuna per month -- 5 daula
Rations and salt at 1 salt per month -- 3 thalers
Meat on Sundays and festive meat days, 2 sheep per year -- 4 thalers
or Salary -- 4 thalers
Clothing: a thick shamma or money -- 3 thalers
Allowance for one soldier, not including grain, will cost for a year -- 14 thalers
Sub-officers receive double that allowance. Platoon sub-officers receive a triple salary over and above the double allowance. Sergeants and sergeants-major receive a quadruple allowance and a salary of 12 thalers per year. Officers (balambaras, gerazmatch, kanyazmatch and fitaurari) should get an allowance that is equal to that of the corresponding ranks in Jankhoy's army.
In forming this new army, you must keep in mind the following.
The recruits collected from all over Ethiopia will, of course, be dissatisfied with the service and many will try to flee.
The hard conditions of service and the strictness of the requirements will seem especially heavy to them at the beginning. Therefore it is necessary to reduce the possibility of escape. Treating people well and feeding them well will tame them.
It is better to station troops who are being trained in regions where outposts can easily close access. For this, Tsareilu and Guma are well suited. To station new units in Addis Ababa, as Jankhoy assumed, would not be good. The new soldiers would see Jankhoy's other soldiers who are idle, have complete freedom, and receive a large allowance, and this would discourage them from their business. Besides, Abyssinians would constantly insult and ridicule the recruits. Therefore, it would be best to have them trained outside of Addis Ababa and then bring them to show Jankhoy and his army.
If Jankhoy were to consider going into the Sudan, then it would be necessary to reconnoiter the route to Khartoum and to collect food supplies at the corresponding borders. The most important place that English have in the Sudan is Khartoum.
When Jankhoy has a strong army which will go where ordered without question, and has strong artillery, and has reconnoitered and picked the route to Khartoum, and has gathered sufficient food supplies at the borders, then Jankhoy can, with the help of God, without difficulty drive the English from the Sudan. And from there, Egypt is not far ...
In conclusion, I repeat the measures that I dared to propose to Jankhoy in answer to the question posed to me: "What must be done to protect Ethiopia?"
1) Make Afilo, Dae and the Baro River a separate region and occupy it with a detachment of 1000 men. Build fortifications and mine fields on the Baro River.
2) Station Dajazmatch Demissew with Gondars and Teigreans in the land of Joti.
3) Build optical telegraph communication among Addis Ababa, Lalo, and Gore.
4) Build permanent bridges on the Gibye, Didessa, Dobane, Gabe, Birbir, and Gore Rivers.
5) Build storehouses for food supplies in Wollaga, in the land of Joti, and in Gondar, and a storehouse for cartridges in Nole-Koba.
6) Reduce the number of troops that serve individual leaders and change the compensation of leaders, from giving them the food output in their territory, to issuing salaries and giving estates.
7) Take away from the individual chiefs the right of granting ranks and distinctions and give this right exclusively to Jankhoy, on recommendation of the leaders.
8) Gradually separate governance of regions from command of military units.
9) Impose a special tax on all servants of foreigners.
10) Prohibit crossing the borders of Abyssinian without a passport and establish consulates in Khartoum, Zeyla, Jibouti, and Massawa.
11) Build an army of Gallas and negroes.
12) Reconnoiter the route to Khartoum.
"Report card" (Abyssinia from the longitude of Addis Ababa to the Blue Nile.) Places occupied by the English, and the route of the proposed railway are marked on the map, as are
proposed railways, proposed Abyssinian fortifications, proposed commercial ports, telegraph posts, proposed places for stationing Abyssinian troops, bridges, and storehouses for cartridges. (This map has not been preserved.)
The broadly conceived plans of Father Anthony (Bulatovich), as could have been foreseen, were not implemented.
After his illness, which lasted about two months, this monk immediately wanted to get to work healing Emperor Menilek II, for which aim he had brought with him several wonder-working icons, consecrated oil and holy water. However, to penetrate the quarters of Jankhoy which was strongly defended against contact with Europeans, turned out to be not so simple as Father Anthony had imagined. In spite of the formal authorization given in my presence by Lidzhem Yasu for an official audience, admittance was postponed from one day to the next, and the cherished desire of Father Anthony was fulfilled only in the fourth month of his stay in Addis Ababa.
At last admitted to see the sick man, Father Anthony with his companion Monk Ieronim held church services, sprinkled and even rubbed the body of the emperor with holy water and holy oil, applied wonder-working icons, but no improvement in the health of Menelik resulted. The only result of their visit was that it was established that the emperor is alive and that all the rumors about the substitution of the long-since dead Jankoy with an Abyssinian who resembles him were false.
Having carried out one of the aims of his visit to Abyssinia, Father Anthony then tried to ascertain the attitude of the local government to his plan for the establishment of a Russian Orthodox spiritual mission and an Athonite "podvor" in Abyssinia.
Here disappointment awaited him. Members of the government and well-known natives in general, who frequently expressed to Father Anthony their feelings of love toward everything Russian and toward Russian clergy in particular, came up with a mass of objections as soon as the question turned to a concession for the building of a "podvor" of a Russian monastery on an island in Lake Khoroshal (which lies three days journey south of Addis Ababa and was chosen by Father Anthony on this trip as the designated site). And Father Anthony did not succeed in securing a definitive promise of a concession for the plot of land selected by him.
Foreseeing this turn of events, I avoided providing any help to the undertakings of Father Anthony, all the more so because, as I explained to him in conversations, his plans were vague and were not taking definite shape.
As far as I can determine, his intentions amount to the following:
Building on a plot of land granted by the Abyssinian government a modest "podvor" of the St. Andrew Skete of Mount Athos, in which would live Father Anthony himself and five or six other monks, selected by him from a number who had already expressed their desire to form the brotherhood of the said "podvor." At the podvor he would establish a school for children, in which to provide elementary education for young natives.
To begin with he would about 2000 rubles per year. Then, with the development of school activities and the possibility of developing it into a seminary, the cost would rise to 8000 rules per year. Father Anthony intended to get voluntary contributions from his former friends and acquaintances, who sympathize with his effort to enlighten Ethiopia. But he would bring in most of the money himself from what his mother now sends him. The activities of the brothers at the podvor would be exclusively religious and moral, without any political tendencies.
For my part, I noted to Father Anthony as a criticism of these assumptions, that his hopes of getting a flood of contributions for constructing of a "podvor" in Abyssinia, were not well-grounded and that, if he got approval for his plans by the Holy Synod, he would have to rely exclusively on his own personal means. Aside from that, in my opinion, there is another weakness -- his selection of associates. You could hardly doubt that the majority of his brothers, now attracted to live in Abyssinia by his passionate tales of bliss, would scatter soon after they became acquainted with all the difficulties that they had in store for them on this island devoid of fresh water, in a region that is not renowned for its healthy climate, far from any human habitation.
Finally, Father Anthony himself, who is a man of strong spirit, is at the same time in very weak health. He has suffered from malaria and a problem with his eyes. And he is very ignorant of worldly matters, which would certainly affect his activity.
Moreover, the ecclesiastical leadership of Saint Andrew's Skete apparently disapproves of his enterprise and has told him in an urgent summons to return to Mount Athos. Clearly, the skete is reluctant to part with this well-educated, deeply believing, and wealthy associate.
On December 8 Father Anthony Bulatovich left here for Mount Athos, taking with him only hopes and not having obtained a single definite promise from the authorities.
Time will tell whether he will continue to try to accomplish his plans.
Please be assured, sir, of my deep respect and devotion.
1. In the handwriting of A. X. Bulatovich, AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 146, line 289; copy: TsGVIA. f. 400, op. 261/911, document 92/1897, chapter 3, lines 176-186.
Petr Mikhaylovich Vlasov (1850-1903) was a Russian diplomat, Acting State Councilor. In 1873, he was appointed to the Asiatic Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as consul in Meshad [Iran]. From 1897 to 1900 he headed the first diplomatic mission of Russia to Ethiopia. From 1900 to 1903 he was the ambassador to Iran.
2. An expedition under the leadership of Major (later General) Jean-Baptiste Marchand (1863-1934) was supposed to secure a French protectorate over part of the Blue Nile Valley and thus prevent the capture of it by the English. Marchand reached the city of Fashoda (now named Kodok) in 1898. In September of that same year, after the rout of the Mahdi uprising in the Sudan, an English detachment under the leadership of Kitchener went there and forced the French to leave Fashoda. This episode caused serious complications between England and France and nearly led to war between them. The members of Marchand's expedition returned to their homeland by way of Ethiopia.
3. Ras, literally "head", is the highest military-feudal title; ruler of a region, commander of a separate army. Makonnen (1852-1906) was a cousin of Menelik II and father of the last emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie I. He was one of the most outstanding statemen in the country from the end of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century. (Le heros d'Adua. Ras Makonnen. Prince of Ethiopia by P. Petrides, Paris, 1963).
4. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 454 of P. M. Vlasov from August 26, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 151-152.
5. Dajazmatch, literally "commander of his own army or of a separate army of the emperor" is one of the highest military-feudal titles. Demissew died in 1918. He was the son of Nesibu, Afe-Negus of the supreme court. He was the ruler of Wollaga.
6. Son of Dessety, a younger sister of Empress Taitu. Ruler of the sub-province of Symen.
7. See below p. 62.
8. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 455 of P. M. Vlasov from August 26, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, Document 147, lines 151-152.
9. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 462 from August 31, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, Document 147, lines 189-196.
10. See note to page 22 to the introductory article.
11. Durgo is an obligation imposed on peasants and requiring them to provide food supplies to bureaucrats, dignitaries, passing troops and also travelers who pass through their settlement and have who have the corresponding order from the authorities.
12. Ashker is a soldier, a servant.
13. Kanyazmatch, literally "commander of the right wing of the imperial army" is one of the highest military-feudal titles.
14. Fitaurari, literally "attacking at the head" is one of the highest military-feudal titles.
15. Daul is a measure of weight, about eighty kilograms.
16. Gerazmatch, literally "commander of the left wing of the imperial army," is one of the highest military-feudal titles.
17. Balambaras, literally "leader of mountain fortress," is one of the highest military=feudal titles.
18. Copy. appendix to Report Number 463 of P. M. Vlasov from August 26, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 189-196.
19. Captain V. Bottego see below, pages 55-57.
20. Expedition of Marquis K. de Bonchamps (1860-1919) (March 1897 to July 1898) was supposed to join with the expedition of Major Marchand at the White Nile (Mission Bonchamps vers Fachoda à la rencontre de la mission Marchand à travers l'Ethiopie. Ch. Michel, Paris, 1900).
21. Ras Gobana (1817-1889) was one of the most prominent military leaders of the second half of the nineteenth century. He subdued the Oromo tribe to the authority of Menellik II.
22. Copy. Appendix to Report 464 of P. M. Vlasov from August 26, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 209-211.
23. Copy. Appendix to Document Number 461 of P. M. Vlasov from August 30, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 185-186.
24. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 477 of P. M. Vlasov from September 30, 1899. APR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 270-276.
25. Keremt is the season of heavy rain in Ethiopia (June to August).
26. Agafari manages the household of a ruler or of the emperor, dealing with receptions and ceremonies.
27. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 477 of P. M. Vlasov from September 30, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 277-284.
28. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 503 of P. M. Vlasov from October 30, 1899. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 386-387.
29. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 497 of P. M. Vlasov from October 30, 1899. AVPR Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 147, lines 386-387.
30. Copy. Appendix to Report Number 471 of P. M. Vlasov from January 12, 1900. AVPR. Politarkhiv, op. 482, document 150, lines 18 and following.
31. Jankhoy is one of the titles of the Ethiopian emperor.
32. Atye is lord.
33. Tekla Georgis II was emperor of Ethiopia 1868-1871. Up until his coronation, he was ruler of the Lasta Goeze region. In 1871, he was defeated by the army of Kasa, the ruler of the Tigre region, who then declared himself emperor under the name Yohannes IV.
34. The source of the Blue Nile is considered to be the Kagera River which flows into Lake Victoria.
35. The Fist Brussels Conference took place September 12 to 14, 1986. It was convened at the initiative of King Leopold II of Belgium, ostensibly for coordination of plans for scientific study of Africa. In actuality, as with the following two conferences, it was bargaining about the division of the African continent among the colonial powers. The Second Brussels Conference lasted from November 18, 1889 to July 2, 1890. Although they adopted a declaration abolishing the slave trade, in a practical sense this did not hinder the application of various forms of compulsory labor in Africa. In the Berlin Conference 1884-1885 an attempt was made to agree on the spheres of interest of the colonial powers during the division of Africa, in particular in the basin of the Congo and to reach an agreement on general principles on the exploitation of its wealth.
36. Menelik I was a legendary ruler. By tradition, he was the son of the Jewish king Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. Ostensibly the hereditary dynasty of the Ethiopian emperors derived from him.
37. Shum, literally "appointed," in a rural location means the senior or elder man. In cities, this term is used with the addition of an epithet denoting the person's rank, such as ruler.
38. AVPR, Greek Department, document 678. Chemerzi was a chargé d'affaires of the Russian embassy in Ethiopia. A. X. Bulatovich, who had taken holy orders as a monk in 1906, went to see and "administer the holy sacraments" to his foster child Vaska, who he had taken to Petersburg from Ethiopia in 1898, and who he had later send back to Ethiopia. See: page 312 of With the Armies of Menelik II by A. X. Bulatovich, reprinted in Moscow, 1971. A. X. Bulatovich, having adopted the name of Anthony as a monk, set out for Ethiopia from the Andreyevsky monastery on Mount Athos from the end of 1910 to the beginning of 1911. See: My Battle With the Name-Fighters on the Holy Mountain, Petersburg, 1917, pages 10-11.