Gordon, Charles George

1833–1885
British general in Sudan

General Charles George Gordon fought for Britain in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Killed defending the city of KHARTOUM in SUDAN, he was regarded by the British as a hero and a martyr. Born in Woolwich, near London, Gordon entered the military in 1852. He fought Britain’s wars in various parts of the world, earning the nickname “Chinese Gordon” for helping to crush a rebellion in China during the 1860s. In 1873, Isma’il Pasha, the ruler of Egypt, appointed Gordon the governor of Equatoria Province in the Sudan, which Egypt then controlled. Four years later Gordon became governor-general of Sudan and launched a vigorous campaign against the slave trade.

Gordon resigned his post in Sudan in 1880. Soon thereafter an Islamic rebellion against Egyptian rule and foreign influence arose in the country. Led by Muhammed Ahmad, who was called al-MAHDI, this movement quickly gained strength. In 1884 the British, who now controlled Egypt, sent Gordon to Khartoum to rescue Egyptian forces there from al-Mahdi’s followers. Gordon reached the city in January 1885 and prepared to defend it. The Mahdists surrounded Khartoum, but Gordon refused to leave and was killed when they took the city. British indignation over his fate played a role in the government’s decision to conquer the Mahdist state in 1898.

Gordon, Charles George