Abyssinian Campaign

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Abyssinian Campaign
Oct 1867-Jun 1868
Chronological list of Wars and Campaigns
[[Image:|250px| ]]
Location: Abyssinia
British and Indian forces Abyssinian regular forces
Result: British victory. Magdala looted and burned.
Medals: Abyssinia
Category: Abyssinian Campaign
Battlemappic.gif See our interactive map of
Abyssinian Campaign
locations and routes on Google Maps


The Abyssinian Campaign of 1868 was a punitive expedition following the imprisonment of missionaries and British representatives by Emperor Tewodros II of Ethiopia (Theodore). Lt-Gen Sir Robert Napier, Commander -in-Chief of the Bombay Army, led a force of 13,000 British and Indian troops which took 3 months to reach the Emperor's capital at Magdala a 380 mile march through mountainous country. The Ethiopians were defeated at the Battles of Arroghee and Magdala. Theodore was killed and the British took away large amounts of treasure when they returned to the coast.


Entries in the Dictionary of Indian Biography 1906

Robert Baigrie (18??-1877)]
John Field (1821-1899)
Charles Goodfellow (1836-915)]
George Malcolm (1818-1897)
William Merewether (1825-1880)
Robert Napier (1810-1890)
Robert Phayre (1820-1897)
John Schneider (1822-1903)
Charles Staveley (1817-1896)
Donald Stewart (1828-1896)
Henry Wilkins (1824-1900)

Reconnoitring party

  • Lt-Col Sir William Merewether CB
  • Lt-Col Sir Robert Phayre CB, Quartermaster-General
  • Lt-Col Henry Wilkins, RE
  • Maj Mignon, Asst Commissary-General
  • Maj Robert Baigrie, Asst Quartermaster-General
  • Capt Charles Goodfellow VC, RE
  • Capt Pottinger, RA
  • Lieut Jopp, RE
  • Lieut Mortemer, RA
  • Lieut Henriel
  • Surgeon Lumsdaine
  • Asst Surgeon Martin
  • 1 Coy Marine Battalion
  • 8 Sappers and Miners
  • 3 Draughtsmen
  • 5 Guides
  • 35 tent lascars
  • 136 public followers
  • 93 private followers
  • 3rd Bombay Light Cavalry (40 men)
  • 149 mules

Naval Squadron

Advance Brigade

Brig-Gen Sir John Field, 10th Bombay NI commanding

Campaign Forces





Transport train

  • 7,365 camels
  • 11,155 mules
  • 1,708 ponies
  • 6,922 pack bullocks
  • 901 draught bullocks
  • 784 donkeys
  • 305 mule carts
  • 345 bullock carts


When the expedition reached Antalo, Napier redistributed the army in divisions:

1st Division
composed of all troops to prosecute the campaign beyond Antalo
Maj-Gen Sir Charles Staveley commanding

  • Pioneer Force under Brig-Gen Sir John Field, 10th Bombay NI
  • 1st Brigade under Brig-Gen John Schneider
  • 2nd Brigade under Brig-Gen Wilby

2nd Division
composed of all troops to hold line of communication and garrison intermediate posts
Maj-Gen George Malcolm CB commanding

  • Antalo Garrison under Brig-Gen Collins
  • Adigerat Garrison under Major Fairbrother
  • Senafe Garrison under Lt-Col Little
  • Zulla Command under Brig-Gen Donald Stewart

Campaign Actions

Battle of Arroghee 10 April
Battle of Magdala 15 April

External Links

Historical Books online

  • Abyssinia mentions the limited role of the only Indian Mountain Battery, but also mentions the British Mountain Batteries. Page 30, The History of the Indian Mountain Artillery by Brigadier-General C A L Graham 1957 Archive.org.
  • "Abyssinia" by Mansfield Parkyns, page 506, Journal of the Royal United Service Institution Volume 12 1869 Google Books
  • "Abyssinian Expedition" by Lieut- Colonel St. Clair Wilkins RE, Commanding Engineer AEF page 140 Papers on subjects connected with the duties of the Corps of Royal Engineers Volume 17 1869 Google Books
  • "Sketch of Magdala and the Surrounding Country" by Lieutenant T J Willans RE page 150 Papers on subjects connected with the duties of the Corps of Royal Engineers Volume 17 1869 Google Books