Wednesday 2 March 2011

ABC Wednesday G is for General Gordon

File:Statue of General Gordon - - 44414.jpg
Gordon of Khartoum
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Major-General Charles George Gordon CB was born on 28th January, 1833, the son of a 
senior army officer. He was commissioned into the Royal Engineers in 1852.

He fought with distinction in the Crimean War (1853 – 1856) but is mainly remembered for his campaigns in China and northern Africa. In 1860 he volunteered to serve in China and fought in the Second Opium War (also known as the Arrow War, the Second Anglo-Chinese War, the Second China War or the Anglo-French expedition to China) and the Taiping Rebellion.

 In May 1862 the Royal Engineers were tasked to reinforce the European trading centre of Shanghai, which was under threat from the agitators of the Taiping Rebellion. A year later he took command of 3,500 peasants in an army raised to defend the city. In the next eighteen months Gordon's troops played a major role in subduing the Taiping uprising.
When he returned to England in January 1865, the public enthusiastically hailed him as ‘Chinese Gordon'. From 1873 to 1876 he served as Governor of Equatoria in the Sudan and during that time he mapped the upper Nile. Following this he was appointed Governor-General of the entire Sudan, suppressing rebellions and the slave trade. He returned to England in 1880, having succumbed to ill-health which forced him to resign his post.
File:Charles Gordon Pasha 1.jpg

Gordon of Khartoum, Gordon Pasha
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Four years later, in February 1884, Gordon travelled once more to the Sudan, this time to withdraw Egyptian garrisons from Khartoum. The troops were under threat from Sudanese rebels led by the self-proclaimed Mahdi, Muhammad Ahmad bin Abd Allah. In March the town came under siege and ten months later was overrun by the Mahdists who butchered and beheaded Gordon at dawn, against the express orders of the Mahdi. Nonetheless, the Mahdi ordered the head to be displayed prominently in a tree ....where all who passed it could look in disdain, children could throw stones at it and the hawks of the desert could sweep and circle above."
At home, the British republic reacted emotionally, proclaiming him a martyr, calling him ‘Gordon  of Khartoum’ and blaming the British government, and William Gladstone in particular, for the failure to save him. The relief force arrived two days after his death. In fact, it is believed now that Gordon probably defied orders, refusing to evacuate Khartoum even though it would have been possible to do so quite late on in the siege. His remains were never recovered, so there is no final resting place for this evangelical Christian who believed in reincarnation. In 1877 he wrote:
"This life is only one of a series of lives which our incarnated part has lived. I have little doubt of our having pre-existed; and that also in the time of our pre-existence we were actively employed. So, therefore, I believe in our active employment in a future life, and I like the thought.”
He was an eccentric bachelor and lived by his faith and his principles, doing not what he was told but what he believed to be right. 

Our thanks Go to the Gregarious Gentlefolk who form the team led by the Great Denise Nesbitt and who organise this weekly meme. Click here to see more Gs!


  1. this whole series of battles and wars about which I have no, or only a passing, knowledge of, have been utterly fascinating.

    Gordon probably could have gotten out; you iknow how stubborn soldier can be. The madhi had to display the head, once it was available, for local interests.

    War is stupid, and inevitable.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  2. I remember him as "Chinese Gordon" - my memory seems to put him together with Lawrence of Arabia, probably because of movies in the 60s. I enjoyed both movies but I have to agree with Roger's comment: war is both stupid and inevitable.
    -- K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. Interesting.

    Please visit my first ABC entry, thank you and nice to meet you through ABC.

    I am now your follower, will you follow my blog too?

  4. Wonderful biographical information. I do enjoy learning something when I check post on other blogs. Thanks!!

  5. Yes-ditto to what Roger said about war. What a horrible way to have ended a life and the lack of disregard for him as a human being. What we are capable as human beings is very troubling.

  6. I find it interesting that he was a Christian who "believed in reincarnation." He must have been one tough guy who died a horrible death! Fascinating post!

    ABCW Team

  7. Very interesting post. Too bad we don't learn that war isn't really a quality habit.

  8. Great post for the week! I remember a movie called Khartooum (I think)with Chinese Gordon. Don't know too much about him other than that. Thanks for all the info!


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