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United States Department of State / Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States, transmitted to congress, with the annual message of the president, December 4, 1876

Egypt,   pp. 594-605 PDF (934.1 KB)

Page 594

No. 318.
Mr. Beardsley to Mr. Fish.
Cairo, Egypt, &pternber 29, 1875. (Received November 8.)
 SIR: The military movements on the frontiers of Abyssinia have of late excited
considerable interest in Egypt, and have been the subject of comment in some
of the European journals.
 The permanent occupation of the province of Bogos by the Egyptian government
three years ago, as reported in my dispatches numbered 9 and 19, of the 1st
of August and the 16th of October, 1872, and the acquisition of Zeilah, on
the Red Sea, in July last, as reported in my dispatch No. 337, of the 17th
July, 1875, appears to have aroused Prince John, King of Abyssinia, to offensive
operations, and to have awakened in him the same ambitious dream of territorial
conquest which inspired King Theodore and contributed to his final destruction.
 During the past summer Prince John has occupied himself in gathering his
forces near the northern frontier of Abyssinia. Early in August he crossed
the frontier of Abyssinia proper and entered the province of ilamasen. Hamasen
was ruled by a petty prince, semi~ independent, who, at the approach of King
John, fled to Mossowah, and claimed the protection of the Egyptian government.
A Swedish Christian mission, long established in the interior, also fled
to Massowah for protection.
 The King's forces pitched their camp at a distance of eight hours' march
north of the Abyssinian frontier and sixteen hours march from Massowah, where
at latest information they were still encamped. Their number is said to be
30,000, but a considerable part of their number is probably composed of camp-followers,
a prominent feature of all Abyssinian and Central African armies. They are
commanded by an Englishman of the name of Kirkbam, who remained in Abyssinia
after the departure of the English army. His official relations with the
King of Abyssinia are mentioned in my dispatch No. 19, above referred to.
The general object of this warlike expedition appears* to be, aside from
plunder, to reconquer the province of Hamasen, as well as Bogas, if possible,
and to extend the frontier of Abyssinia to the sea.
 At the approach of the Abyssinian forces the Egyptian frontier was defended
by but a small contingent of men, and considerable apprehension was entertained
for the safety of Massowah.
 The military department of Massowah is under the command of Munsinger Pacha,
who has lived in that neighborhood for many years. He is a Swiss, and filled
the post at one time of English vice-consul at Massowah. Later he entered
the Egyptian service, and for several years was governor of that province.
Several battalions of troops have been sent from Suez to re-enforce Munsinger
on the frontier, and an Egyptian frigate has been dispatched to Massowah.
 Colonel Long, an American officer, and Colonel Arendruple, a Swede, have
been sent to the scene of action to co-operate with Munsinger. Colonel Long
left Suez about ten days ago with a contingent of troops and with sealed
 MLillsinger has received orders to communicate with King John by letter,
requesting him to withdraw immediately into his~ own territory.

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