GORDON, Charles George. Autograph letter signed ("C.G. Gordon RE)," and initialed twice ("C.G.G.") to Chief Clerk of the Foreign Office, Khartoum 8 November 1884. 1 page, folio, with postscript along left edge, and additional postscript on integral page. Marked at the head by Gordon "No. 3," and by a F.O. clerk: "Extract to Sir P. Anderson about loss of cyphers 20/3/85." An integral leaf is docketed: In Sir E. Baring's hand: "No. 209 of March 3, 1885."
IN A DESPATCH FROM "THIS BELEAGURED CITY," GORDON TELLS LONDON OF THE LOSS OF THE FOREIGN OFFICE CODE BOOKS TO THE MAHDI
Nine months into the siege, Gordon reports an intelligence disaster: "As one can never say one's life is one's own up here, I have the honor to inform you, that Lieut. Colonel Stewart CMS, whom we fear, has been killed, or captured had with him the two Foreign office cypher Books, when he left this place, and if he has been killed or captured, these books are with the Mahdi." Gordon then explains that mission's expense accounts were also with Stewart, and are now "probably...where the F.O. cypher Books are." In the first postscript Gordon notes: "Lt. Colonel Smith had with him when he left this [place], about 60 or 70£, which if he is captured or killed, is lost. He drew no money on F.O. up here," but had lost a uniform for which he had hoped to obtain compensation. In a second postscript, on the integral leaf, Gordon adds, in a somewhat defensive tone: "With Lt Col. Stewart were every single paper or document connected with our Mission for F.O. or elsewhere, as I considered they would be safer with him than in this beleaguered city." Gordon learned of the loss of Stewart from the Mahdi himself, in a 22 October letter. Gordon had sent Stewart and a Times correspondent, Frank Power, on a steamer toward Dongola, to try and establish a communication post there. Their boat struck a rock and the Englishmen were murdered on the shoreline.
On the day he wrote this despatch, Gordon also confided to his journal: "We truly have had a wearisome time for 241 days! Another soldier has come in; he says the Mahdi thought Kartoum could be bombarded from his new camp, but finds it cannot be done. If Lord Wolseley did say that he hoped to relieve Kartoum before 'many months', he must have a wonderful confidence in our powers of endurance, considering that when he is said to have made this utterance, we had been blockaded six-and-a-half months, and are now in our ninth month..." Four days later the Mahdi began bombarding Khartoum.