German East Africa 1888-1890 Bagamoyo, Wissman, etc.

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German East Africa 1888-1890 Bagamoyo, Wissman, etc.

Post by schutzearsch » 20 Apr 2016 17:31

As already known I'm realy intersted in Colonial Warfare since two years or so...

And I'm realy looking for Information about the Battles of the Abushiri Revolt.

I've already learned lots of things from the two realy brilliant websites and

Right now I'm mostly interssted about the 1st two bigger battles of the Abushiri Revolt the battles at Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam.

From what I've read the revolt was well organised, swift and hit the Germans totally unchecked.
It started on 9/20 and by 9/22 Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam where the only two places still in controll of the DOAG (Deutsch-Ostafrikanische Gesellschaft = German East Africa Company)

From what I know Abushiri ibn Salim al-Harthi (the leader of the revolt) launched an attack on Bagamoyo on september 22nd his forces consisted of 8,000 men (mostly Bushiri Arabs and Swahili from the coastal tribes). What I don't know how many of his man where Bushiri and how many where Swahili tribesmen. How where they armed? The Bushiri hat percussion ca or flint lock muskets i presume the Swahili spears, bows, knifes and clubs? Had some of the Swahili firearms?

What I also don't know is I almost don't know anything about the defenders. I know (again from Savge and Soldier) that a detachment of 260 men of sailors from the Imperial German Navy saved the day, from various sources I could find out that ships involved in that campaign included the SMS Leipzig, SMS Möwe, SMS Schwalbe, SMS Pfeil and SMS Sophie, SMS Carola and SMS Olga. I'm not sure about SMS Olga cause SMS Olga got hit by a Cyclon in Apia on March 13th 1889 and then went to Sydney for repairs and then made it's way back to Germany via the Suez Canal so it could have been that SMS Olga was in the near of German East Africa at the time but SMS Olga migh've been realy badly damaged in the cyclon (it colied with 2 or 3 other ships)...however all these ships might have provided the the 260 men strong landing party which i assume where equipet with standard German army equipment of the time (Mauser Gewehr 71 or maybe Gewehr 71/84 since the Armies got the new Gewehr 88 first) maybe a Maxim or two or an Hotchkiss Revovler Canon from one of the ships.
But who else was there and fighting? The 1st defenders of Bagamoyo (and Dar Es Salaam) that come to my mind whre the Swahili Askari hired by the DOAG. I couldn't find any specific numbers of how many Askaris the DOAG might have hired but all sources that it was a small numbers.
Ther German side states the non european soldiers that where hired or taken over into the Wissmann Truppe where.

6 Sudanesenkompanien zu 100 Mann, (6 Sudanese companies of 100 men each = 600 men)
30 Sudanesen als Artilleristen, (30 Sudanese artillerymen)
1 Zulukompanie zu 100 Mann (später um 1 Kompanie erweitert), (1 Zulu company of 100 men it says they later added a 2nd Zulu Coy)
1 Zug landeseingeborene Askaris: 80 Mann, (1 Platoon of 80 local Askari)
40 Somalis,
2 türkische Polizeihauptleute, (2 turkish police captains)
20 türkische Polizisten. (20 turkish policemen)

I find the fact intersseting that Wissman hired 22 turks to serve in his unit but while it's interessting I think it totally makes sense Germany and Turkey had somewhat of an military relationship in the 19th century Helmuth von Moltke (the german field Marshall and military mastermind behind the Prussian and German vicotires over Denmark, Austria and France in 1864, 66 and 70) served as a military Advisor in Turkey from 1836 to 1839. So training, drill and doctrine wise many Turks might've been familiar with German military expertise. And they might've been much cheaper than German military personal...after all Wissmanns unit was de facto a mercenary and he had a budgeht. But back to the main topic.

I asume the 80 local Askari might've been Swahili Askari taken over from the DOAG. So they might have at least 80 Askari in their service..the intersting question is how many Askari died in the defense of Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam. Sources state that the fighting was fierce but most soruves on colonial conflicts show that the casaluties of the European forces compared to the locals where often 1:10 1:20 or even higher. Taken the fact that this was an assault on a at least provisional fortified city Abushiri might've lost at lot more man than the german defenders.
But Wissman already had over 750 soldiers at his service so maybe he didn't take every Swahili Askari into his service maybe he just took the best and fittest for combat. So I think you could assume the DOAG had like 100-300 Askari.

The next to fight where the Europeans in the city.
Unfortunately I could not find anything about how many Europeans where living in German East Africa in 1888. The earliest numvers I could find where from 1897 in 1897 there where 922 Europeans living in German East Africa 678 of them where Germans.I only can tkae that numvers and kinda speculate and I think that there can't be more than 500 Europeans in German East Africa at the time but I think it wheare at least 150 or 200.
I think there might've been at least some DOAG Staff and some European Settlers and maybe some Boers and Afrikaners.
Sources state that there where living some Indians, Turks, Syriesn and Egyptians in German East Africa. They might've fought togehter with the Europeans or they might not i realy don't know.

So taking everything into account I think the defenders of Bagamoyo might've been somewhat between 400 and 600 men strong. Well the ships from the Imperial German Navy might've shelled the attackers and this surely helped a lot.

If anyone can help me and ad some piece of information even the smallest piece will be much appreciated.

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Chris Dale
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Re: German East Africa 1888-1890 Bagamoyo, Wissman, etc.

Post by Chris Dale » 29 May 2016 13:20

It looks like you've done a lot of good work there. I'd recommend you read- "German Schutztruppe in East Africa 1889-1911" by Ernst Nigmann translated by Robert E Dohrenwend (Published by Battery Press in English)

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