Today In Fact, 27 August

The shortest war in history was fought for 38 minutes today in 1896.

The Sultan of Zanzibar was assassinated by his nephew who promptly had himself declared the new Sultan. The problem was that that the British rather liked the old Sultan and the Germans liked the new one.

The British sent an ultimatum and the new Sultan demurred. The Anglo-Zanzibar war was declared. The British mustered three cruisers, two gunboats, 150 British marines and some 900 Zanzibaris while the Sultan gathered some 2,800 men, four cannon in his palace and a shore battery, putting out to sea the royal yacht and two boats.

The battle was swift and devastating. The royal yacht and the two boats were sunk, the shore battery destroyed, 500 of the Sultan’s soldiers were killed or wounded while the British suffered one wounded man.

The Sultan fled to the German consulate and later to exile in German East Africa, ending the Zanzibar Sultanate as a sovereign state. Within seven decades, Zanzibar would regain independence from the British as part of the federal state of Tanzania.

I guess one lesson that might be gained from this is that if you are going to kill the Sultan, be sure the Royal Navy is not in the harbour.

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer ( )