Political map of Northern Africa 7 August 1897 (Kitchener in Sudan): In March 1896 Anglo-Egyptian forces under Herbert Kitchener began their reconquest of Sudan (Anglo-Egyptian conquest of Sudan) from the Mahdist State. To help supply and transport the troops involved, Kitchener ordered the construction of a railway across the Nubian Desert, bypassing a long stretch of the Nile. The planned railhead, the town of Abu Hamed, was seized by the Anglo-Egyptians (Battle of Abu Hamed) in August 1897, allowing for the completion of the railway in October.