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The Nile Expedtion was the first instance of overseas service of Canadians. In 1884, during the Battle of Khartoum in the Sudan, the British put out a call for Canadian volunteers to help guide British soldiers up the Nile River. The soldiers were to provide some relief to the isolated men stationed there.
The River Column left Korti on the Nile, December 1884, to traverse the rapids and advance south into the Sudan to relieve Gen. Gordon in Khartoum, who was being attacked by the forces of the Mahdi. General Lord Garnet Wolseley needed men who could overcome the Nile's cataracts as they moved upriver, and he decided that Canadian boatmen like those who assisted in his Red River Expedition, would be the answer.
The Canadian government gave Britain permission to recruit and the men were brought to Egypt under the command of Colonel F. C. Denison
General Lord Garnet Wolseley's group of 392 Canadian boatmen - the Nile Voyageurs - 56 of whom were Mohawks, mostly from the Kahnawake band in Quebec, and 30 of whom were Ojibwa from Manitoba and Northern Ontario. Chief Louis Jackson of Kahnawake recommended the design for the whaler-boats that were used on the voyage and became a river foreman.
Only 89 men actually helped the expedition in moving the boats up the Nile. A total of 16 Canadians lost their lives during this six-month, 19,000-kilometre expedition. The journey turned out to be in vain as the British troops were killed two days before the rescuers arrived. Upon learning of General Gordon's death, the column was forced to retrace its steps in March 1885.
Name: John Greenless Age: 23
Birth Date: abt 1782 Birth Place: Fermanagh [Ireland]
Military Date: 7 May 1805 Unit: 54th Foot Soldiers
The National Archives; Kew, Surrey, England; Class Number: WO 25; Class Title: 54 Foot; Piece Number: 420; Piece Title: 54 Foot.
Source Information: Ancestry.com. Canada, British Regimental Registers of Service, 1756-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012.
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