Some sources mention Gordon running into the Austrian consulate to save himself from the Mahdi, which implies that there were other Europeans in Khartoum during the siege. What happened to them?
'In perils oft': romantic biographies illustrative of the adventurous life (1886) provides three versions of Gordon's death, pp. 533-534.
- He was slain by gunfire while on his way to the Austrian consulate
- He was killed on the courtyard steps of the governors palace
- He was shot while in his study, reading his Bible
All three stories are told by one witness, Rosti Ponago, a Greek merchant who had been in Khartoum for many years. The account is given as reported in the Daily News, as reported by their Dongola correspondent in June of 1885.
The report continues, and states that of 42 Greeks, only 8 escaped; etc.
Note that most of the western Europeans had been evacuated previous to the closing of the siege of Khartoum, though some of these were captured and killed along their way down the Nile.
From the referenced footnote: *"Such is one of the most probable accounts of the hero's death but a different version was communicated to the public towards the end of June 1885 by a Dongola correspondent of the Daily News. He derived it from one Rosti Ponago, a Greek, who had kept a store for some years in Khartoum, had been forced to wear the Mahdi's uniform, but ultimately succeeded in effecting his escape. He thus describes the fall of Khartoum and the death of Gordon: And now the day arrived that was to separate husband from wife, brother from sister, and parent from child. The streets were soon to run with blood I was not at my house. I was with some Greeks, eight in all, near the mosque, when we heard a hideous uproar as of men shouting and yelling and of women wailing around about on all sides. Near and nearer did this long continued roar approach swelling as it were and now bursting close on our ears. Men with frightful gashes on their faces and limbs came flying by and towards us women with torn garments and dishevelled hair shrieking screaming 'Jesu Christo!' I shall not forget that horrible din to the day of my death. We are lost! We are lost! we cried. The place is taken! But no one could tell us exactly what was the matter. We ran up to the top of the mosque and saw that the town was given up to massacre and bloodshed. We ran to a house, barricaded the doors and windows, went upstairs, shut ourselves into a room and determined never to surrender, but die like Greeks, for we, mindful of our ancestors, fight to the last.
Listen I pray you. Have you not asked me where Gordon Pasha was slain? You say everybody has said he was either killed on the court-yard steps of the palace or outside going to the Austrian Consul's house. They all lie. If you choose to believe them you may it matters not to me. I am a respectable Greek merchant not an Arab. You want the truth I tell it to you. True, I did not see Gordon slain, but everybody in Khartoum knows where the event happened. An Arab rushed upstairs and shot him with a gun as he was reading the Bible. Another Arab cut off his head and put it on a spear and so went forth into the city carrying it and brandishing it on high. The Copts in the palace, in the rooms below, were slaughtered at the same time. The Arabs came pouring in; they slew every man they could find, no mercy was shown to any one. There was no resistance. I don't think a hundred shots were fired by Egyptians or blacks. Men ran in and shut themselves up in houses, but doors were burst open and spearing, cutting, and slashing went on bravely in the streets, in the market square, in the bazaars. It was a horrible scene, this bazaar afterwards, I went through it. Gay curtains crimson coloured and orange stripped golden edged satins, silks and muslins lay smeared and splashed with blood; everything was upset and strewed about and trampled on. Everywhere was the wildest disorder. You know how narrow it was and how it winds. One corner was so full of corpses and dying that we could not get by. I had my hands tied and I fell several times in the road slippery with blood. The havoc went on till eight o clock. Then Mahomet Achmet, the Mahdi, sent over word from Omdurman that Allah had revealed to him that the slaughter must cease. We were told this. It was shouted about the streets and those that were still hidden were bidden to come forth. Of forty two Greeks only eight escaped. There were ten Jews, these were killed. I think Gordon's head I saw on a spear. It was taken over to Omdurman and shown to Mahomet Achmet. It was laid before him. A grim savage smile passed over his face He gazed long at the countenance of his late enemy. "God be praised!" he cried "can this be his?" He did not express anger at Gordon's death as you say has been reported; he made merry at his death when it was told him. The head was then borne away and men plucked the hairs out of his head and beard and spat in his face. His body was cut up into little pieces. This was his end."*
Note: the punctuation was not preserved by the transfer, but I restored some to make it readable.
This newspaper clipping from 1895 gives more information to the whereabouts of the Europeans in Khartoum. It states that "in 1887, the prisoners include four Italian sisters, 2 priests and 2 laymen".