Conscription Resistance in Egypt, 1856



From Russkii Invalid  No. 31, 8 February 1856,Year 43, page 133.


From a letter from Alexandria written to L’Indepéndance Belge, dated 26 (14) January: “An important change was made in the system for drafting recruits in Egypt. Up to now recruits were drawn exclusively from the fellaheen, or agricultural peasants. Sheikhs (village elders) and their families were not obligated to render military service. The viceroy has now withdrawn this privilege which has been enjoyed by the rich class of sheikhs for a long time. He ordered the formation of a select corps of 10,000 men, all of whom are to be drawn from the sons of sheikhs. This measure is generally approved of. In fact, in this way the government will have a living guarantee, if not of loyalty, at least of significant cooperation by the most prosperous class of the population. True, in many places there were attempts to resist the implementation of this measure that naturally seems very strange if one considers that 10,000 recruits are to be taken from the only 18,000 persons who make up the 4,400 Egyptian families that comprise the sheikh class. But the viceroy is endowed with an iron will that does not recognize obstacles. Some discontents paid for their resistance with their lives, the rest submitted. The formation of the new corps is now proceeding rather successfully.”



From Russkii Invalid No. 32, 9 February 1856, Year 43, page 138.


(Reprinted from the Neue Preussische Zeitung.) According to the news from Alexandria from 5 February (24 January), infantry and artillery were issued with live ammunition with all haste and sent out that same day by railway to the town of Damangur, which lies halfway between Alexandria and Cairo. A rebellion had broken out in this town in which there took part not only the inhabitants, but also Bedouins and even several companies of the force that had been recently recruited. Reports ascribe the cause of the uprising to Said-Pasha’s introduction of a military draft for Egypt’s subject sheikh class.



From Russkii Invalid  No. 42, 21 February 1856,Year 43, page 179.


(Reprinted from L’Indepéndance Belge) According to news from Alexandria from 11 February (30 January), the Bedouin uprising keeps growing and is now spread to middle and lower Egypt. Fresh military troops were sent against the insurgents. On 11 February (30 January) 160 prisoners arrived in Alexandria. Merchants in Alexandria, having heavily engaged in speculation for continued high bread prices, are in fear of losing from 8 to 10 million francs in the face of further declines in the cost of bread in European markets.



From Russkii Invalid  No. 46, 28 February 1856,Year 43, page 197.


(Reprinted from Preussische Staats Anzeigung) According to the news of 21 (9) February from Alexandria received in Trieste, it is said that rumors of an uprising in Demangur were unfounded, but that nevertheless inside Egypt an actual bloody war rages.



From Russkii Invalid  No. 59, 14 March 1856,Year 43, page 256.


(Reprinted from Neue Preussische Zeitung) It is written from Alexandria, dated 11 March (28 Feburary): “A large call-up of recruits has been ordered because Said-Pasha wishes to concentrate 40,000 men this summer at Lake Mareotis [i.e. next to Alexandria – M.C.]. News of an uprising in Massawa is confirmed. (Massawa or Massuakh, an island off the coast of Abyssinia, is now under Egyptian control. We have previously reported that the new Abyssinian king, Theodore, is trying to wrest it back from Egypt.)”


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Translated by Mark Conrad, 2004.