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In October 1862, Ethiopian Emperor Theodore II sent a letter to Queen Victoria asking for British munitions and military experts to help him defend his country against Moslem neighbors. After two years of waiting for a response, which never came, Theodore became infuriated. In desperation, he decided to hold Captain Charles Cameron, the British Consul, and others as hostages until he received a reply to his letter. This incident led to the formation of an Anglo-Indian military expedition to Ethiopia, under the command of Lieutenant General Sir Robert Napier. An army of about 32,000 men left Bombay, India, on December 21, 1867, landed at Annesley Bay about two weeks later, and set off for the Ethiopian interior on January 26, 1868. By March 24 the army was within site of the fortress of Magdala.
On April 10, 1868, on the plateau of Arogi below Magdala, British troops defeated the main Ethiopian force. British and Indian battle losses were estimated at 29 wounded, while the Abyssinians are believed to have suffered at least 500 killed and wounded. Theodore released the prisoners held in Magdala the next day.
On April 13, the British stormed Magdala. That evening, Theodore committed suicide. Before leaving, the British burned Magdala to the ground.
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This page was last updated on 10/23/2017.