A Scarce Nile Voyageurs pair to Boatman A. Hill, Caughnawaga Detachment a Mohawk Indian born Ennias Karoniaratie, he was one of 56 men of the detachment who would take part in the operation to relieve General Gordon in Khartoum, marking the first Canadian overseas contingent of war volunteers.
Pair: Egypt Medal 1882-1889, undated reverse,1 Clasp: The Nile 1884-85; (35. BOAT: A. HILL. CAUGHNAWAGA DET:) Khedives Star dated 1884-6
Condition: Good Very Fine
Boatman (No. 35) Angus Hill, A Mohawk Indian born Ennias Karoniaratie was one of 56 men of the Caughnawaga Detachment of Canadian Boatmen who would take part in the expedition to relieve General Gordon of Khartoum.
The Caughnawaga Detachment formed part of The Nile Voyageurs, who were a force of Canadian volunteers who served in the Sudan with British forces as part of the Nile Expedition from 1884 to 1885. Though they were civilian volunteers, serving as boatmen for the British Army, they can be considered Canada’s first overseas contingent of war volunteers. 16 voyageurs died on active service during the campaign, and as Canada’s first overseas casualties they are commemorated in the Book of Remembrance in Ottawa.
The voyageurs arrived in Alexandria on 7 October 1884 and took a train to Asyut, passing Cairo on the way. Waiting for them were the 9-m-long wooden whaling boats that they would use to transport about 5,000 troops and supplies. The boats had to travel 2,300 km south against the strong Nile current. The whalers were chained to steamboats and towed on the journey’s first leg. On 26 October, they arrived at the British garrison at Wadi Halfa. The steamboats could take them no farther. Six-men crews rowed from sunrise to sunset. In shallow sections, they had to push the boats forward with long poles. Rapids forced men to either wade while pulling the heavy boats with ropes or undertake laborious portages. Accompanying the flotilla was a camel caravan of 1,800 British soldiers. It carried supplies, helped with portages, and offered protection from Mahdi. In January, the voyageurs’ enlistments expired and most opted to return to Canada. They were welcomed in Ottawa with a celebratory meal and parade. Meanwhile, at Korti, Wolseley sent the caravan south. Those who had re-enlisted (about 85 in number) embarked on the Nile’s long loop east, south, and then back west to reunite with the caravan. Progress was slowed by unexpected rapids. On 17 January, the caravan was attacked at Abu Klea. The British troops defeated the attacking Mahdi but suffered 380 casualties.