Page 3542

3542 UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

intervening country was a barren desert waste,

almost destitute of water. It was through

this region, according to the Biblical

account, that the Israelites wandered for

forty years; but the Turks had among

their leaders no Moses who could smite

the rocks and cause to leap forth springs

of life-giving water, nor could they depend

upon miraculous dispensations of manna

and quails.

Nevertheless, the Turks gathered an

army in Syria under Djemal Pasha, and

determined to make the attempt. Camels

were collected by the thousands, galvanized iron pontoon boats were provided,

and material was also taken along with

which to make rafts.

Meanwhile the British gathered a considerable number of men, largely colonial

and Indian troops, along the canal, erected

fortifications and wire entanglements, and

patrolled the great waterway with warships.

During the latter part of January, there

were frequent skirmishes between reconnoitering parties in the desert to the east

of the canal, and, on February 2, the Turks

began their attack. As the canal is almost

a hundred miles in length, they approached

it in several places. That night one of

their parties reached the canal near the

Ismailia Ferry with some boats and a raft

or two made of empty kerosene tins in

a wooden frame. The boats were quickly

riddled by rifle, machine gun, and artillery fire, and the Turks were either killed,

captured, or driven back. At El Kantara

another attack came to grief on the British

wire entanglements. Next day there was

fighting at various points along the canal,

in which the British warships played

an active part. By and by the British

took the offensive, and the survivors of

the Turkish forces were thrown back.

The British losses in these engagements

were only a little over a hundred in killed