“ITALY’S TERRIBLE DEFEAT” The New York Times – March 4, 1896

On March 4, 1896, the New York Times had this headline about the Battle of Adwa.
“ITALY’S TERRIBLE DEFEAT” The New York Times March 4, 1896

Below is an excerpt from The New York Times article published on March 4, 1896.


Three thousand Men Killed, Sixty Guns and All Provisions Lost.

Baratieri’s Strategy Condemned.

All Available Steamers for Transport of Reinforcements to Abyssinia are Ordered.

Persistent Rumor of Ministry’s Fall

battle of adwa

Rome, March 3 – The present campaign against the Abyssinians threatens to become one of the most disastrous in which the Italians arms have ever taken part, and what the final outcome will be it would be hard to predict. It was rumored today that the latest defeat of the Italians by King Menelik had compelled Ministry to resign, owing to the popular disapproval of the Government’s policy, but tonight this report is denied.

Emperor Menelik II

Details received here today of the defeat on Sunday of the Italian Army show that the Italian losses were very heavy, they being placed by some at 3,000 killed. It is still impossible to ascertain the precise losses, but popular opinion credits the report that the number of killed is not overstated. Thus far the reports make no mention of the number of wounded. Among the dead are Gen. Albertone, Commander of the Left Brigade, and Gen. Dabormida, Commander of the Right Brigade.

The news of this latest disaster has caused the greatest excitement throughout Italy, and the Opposition party is taking advantage of it to make violent attacks upon the Government’s policy in attempting to extend the sphere of Italian influence in Abyssinia.

The Pope is greatly disturbed by the news.

Among the many reports current today was one to the effect that Gen. Baratieri had committed suicide, being unable to endure the humiliation of his defeat.

Published on March 4, 1896 in the New York Times.

Read Original New York Times Story Click Here

ABYSSINIANS DEFEAT ITALIANS.; Both Wings of Baratieri’s Army Enveloped in an Energetic Attack

battle of adwa new york times article

Massaowa, March 2, 1896 – Gen. Baratieri attacked the Abyssinians yesterday. Gens. Albertone, Arimondi, and Dabormida commanded the left, centre, and right brigades, respectively. Gen. Ellina commanded the reserve.

The Italians captured the passes leading to Adowa without opposition. Gen. Albertone, with four native battalions and four mountain batteries , engaged the enemy, but where soon overcome by overwhelming odds.

Gen. Arimondi was ordered to cover the retreat, but his position prevented him from complying with the order. The Abyssinians in the meantime made an energetic attack, which soon extended to the whole Italian front and enveloped both wings.

A desperate struggle ensued. and finally the Italians were compelled to abandon their positions. The nature of the ground prevented the batteries from moving. The Italians are retiring behind Belesa. The losses sustained are unknown.

The New York Times Published March 3, 1896


The New York Times
April 12 1887

From The Paul Mall Gazette

The great Abyssinian chief Ras Alula is at present a person of much interest to the Italians, and the Riforma is publishing a sketch of his life, in the course of which it is stated that he is the son of Abyssinian peasants. He was born about 45 years ago in the village of Pamaka, near Mekalle, and served for many years as groom under the Negus Ras Area. Later on he became Master of the Wardrobe at Court, and married the daughter of Ras Area, who died not long after the marriage. He then rose to the rank of Chamberlain, and was finally made Governor of Tigre, with the title of Ras.

Ras Alula is of middle height, has a chocolate-colored skin and a thin face, but it is otherwise rather stout. He never laughs, talks slowly, polite to strangers, but haughty to inferiors. His orders are given only once. If they are not executed, he horsewhips his servants. As a rule he wears a white cotton shirt and trousers. A red fez covers his close-cut hair. On special occasions, he wears a red silk shirt, the robe of the Governor. He is an excellent horseman, and it will be difficult to find an Abyssinian who bears the hardships of traveling better than he. He accompanies the Negus barefooted on all his tours, and never show a sign of fatigue. Having had no education, he can neither read nor write, but is very intelligent and cunning, but pious and superstitious withal. His avarice is extreme; he takes everywhere and gives nowhere. Wherever he goes he takes everything he can lay hold of. On his marches he is accompanied by his servants, who carry his wine, made of honey. Ras Alula is fond of women, but tries to conceal that fact. One of the many Abyssinian poems in his honor runs thus:

“He is as fair as angel
And strong as a lion,
Swift-footed as a leopard,
Sly as a fox,
Wise as Solomon,
Generous as a King,
Is most valiant of all.”

The King has promised him the crown of Kassala, if he can earn it. Eight generals fight under him. His daughter is a good and beautiful woman, who has protected Count Salimbeni and his companion, and it is due to her influence that they have not been killed.

Ras Alula Dead – An Abyssinian General of Great Ability – The Son of Peasants

The New York Times Archives

Rome – Reports received here announce the death of the great Abyssinian chief, Ras Alula.

Ras Alula was fifty-five years old. His parents were peasants in the village of Punake, near Mekahe. He served for several years as groom to the uncle of of the Negus, Ras Area. He entered the service of Ras Area, whose daughter he married, and later he became Master of the Ward robe at court. After the death of his father-in-law, he was promoted to the rank of Chamberlain, and then he was made Governor of Tigre, with the title Ras.

Ras Alula developed great military skill, and for many years was regarded as one of the greatest of Abyssinian Generals. He was deliberate in his speech, cunning, and very determined in character. He always accompanied the Negus in his journeys, and also acted as Councilor of State.

In personal appearance Ras Alula was of chocolate color, was about 5 feet 9 inches in height, and was stout, although his face was thin. He was very pious, but his piety took on the form of great superstition, and his avarice and rapacity were almost beyond the comprehension of Westerners. It is said that, whenever he visited any village with his servants, he took all that he could lay his hand upon, and left hardly anything behind for his hosts.

The above article was published in the New York Times on Feb 27, 1897You Might Be Interested In



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