Gordon, Charles George

Gordon, Charles George, 1833–85, British soldier and administrator. He served in the Crimean War, went to China in the expedition of 1860, taking part in the capture of Beijing, and in 1863 took over the command of F. T. Ward, who had raised a Chinese army to suppress the Taiping Rebellion. For the achievements of this Ever-Victorious Army he was popularly known as Chinese Gordon. In 1873 he entered the service of the khedive of Egypt, succeeding Sir Samuel Baker as governor of Equatoria (S Sudan, now in South Sudan). Appointed governor of Sudan in 1877, he waged a vigorous campaign against slave traders. He resigned in 1879, but after various appointments in India, China, Mauritius, and Cape Colony (South Africa), he was sent back to Sudan, where Muhammad Ahmad (see under Mahdi) had acquired control. Although under orders to evacuate the Egyptian garrison from Khartoum, Gordon took it upon himself to attempt to defeat the Mahdi. He was cut off and besieged at Khartoum for 10 months. A relief expedition belatedly dispatched from England reached the garrison two days after it had been stormed by the Mahdists, who killed Gordon. Gordon's death stirred public indignation and contributed to the collapse of the Gladstone government in 1885.

See Gordon's journals at Khartoum (1885, repr. 1969); studies by P. Charrier (1965), A. Nutting (1966), J. Marlowe (1969), and C. Trench (1979).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2024, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: British and Irish History: Biographies