The Odyssey of the Sword of Rudolph Carl von Slatin
Reading ‘Fire and Sword in the Sudan’ I came across an interesting anecdote which shows the travels an individual sword could take in the late-19th century. The book is a first hand account by Austrian officer Rudolf Slatin, who under British service was made the governor of Darfur in the Sudan. During the Mahdist uprising he was taken prisoner, but managed to save his own life by pretending to serve the Mahdi. He lived as a captive for 12 years and eventually managed to gain his freedom and return to Britain.
–Matt Easton, Schola Gladiatoria
**Slatin Pasha’s sword would have been an Austrian M1861 Infantry Officer’s Sword.
Sudanese shield, 1885 (circa).
This hippopotamus hide shield was reputedly recovered from Major-General Sir John McNeill’s ‘zariba’ (defensive fenced position constructed from thorn bush), after the Batttle of Tofrek on 22 March 1885, during the 1st Sudan War (1884-1885).
Tofrek was a fierce defensive battle where a force of British and Indian troops fought off an attack by followers of the Islamic fundamentalist leader, the Mahdi, under the command of Osman Digna. After severe fighting the Mahdists retreated after suffering around 3000 casualties.
NAM Accession Number
National Army Museum, London
National Army Museum, Study collection