1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hicks, William

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HICKS, WILLIAM (1830–1883), British soldier, entered the Bombay army in 1849, and served through the Indian mutiny, being mentioned in despatches for good conduct at the action of Sitka Ghaut in 1859. In 1861 he became captain, and in the Abyssinian expedition of 1867–68 was a brigade major, being again mentioned in despatches and given a brevet majority. He retired with the honorary rank of colonel in 1880. After the close of the Egyptian war of 1882, he entered the khedive’s service and was made a pasha. Early in 1883 he went to Khartum as chief of the staff of the army there, then commanded by Suliman Niazi Pasha. Camp was formed at Omdurman and a new force of some 8000 fighting men collected—mostly recruited from the fellahin of Arabi’s disbanded troops, sent in chains from Egypt. After a month’s vigorous drilling Hicks led 5000 of his men against an equal force of dervishes in Sennar, whom he defeated, and cleared the country between the towns of Sennar and Khartum of rebels. Relieved of the fear of an immediate attack by the mahdists the Egyptian officials at Khartum intrigued against Hicks, who in July tendered his resignation. This resulted in the dismissal of Suliman Niazi and the appointment of Hicks as commander-in-chief of an expeditionary force to Kordofan with orders to crush the mahdi, who in January 1883 had captured El Obeid, the capital of that province. Hicks, aware of the worthlessness of his force for the purpose contemplated, stated his opinion that it would be best to “wait for Kordofan to settle itself” (telegram of the 5th of August). The Egyptian ministry, however, did not then believe in the power of the mahdi, and the expedition started from Khartum on the 9th of September. It was made up of 7000 infantry, 1000 cavalry and 2000 camp followers and included thirteen Europeans. On the 20th the force left the Nile at Duem and struck inland across the almost waterless wastes of Kordofan for Obeid. On the 5th of November the army, misled by treacherous guides and thirst-stricken, was ambuscaded in dense forest at Kashgil, 30 m. south of Obeid. With the exception of some 300 men the whole force was killed. According to the story of Hicks’s cook, one of the survivors, the general was the last officer to fall, pierced by the spear of the khalifa Mahommed Sherif. After emptying his revolver, the pasha kept his assailants at bay for some time with his sword, a body of Baggara who fled before him being known afterwards as “Baggar Hicks” (the cows driven by Hicks), a play on the words baggara and baggar, the former being the herdsmen and the latter the cows. Hicks’s head was cut off and taken to the mahdi.

See Mahdiism and the Egyptian Sudan, book iv., by Sir F. R. Wingate (London, 1891), and With Hicks Pasha in the Soudan, by J. Colborne (London, 1884), Also Egypt: Military Operations.