The Abyssinian War was provoked following the imprisonment of a number of foreign nationals by King Theodore of Abyssinia including the British Consul. Whilst they were released after a year of negotiations, they were again re-arrested. More ultimatums were given and eventually war was declared on 19th Nov 1867. Sir Robert Napier (Commander in Chief Bombay Army) was given command of the expedition which ultimately was one of the most bloodless experienced by the British Army with only 2 killed and 27 wounded. The British entered the capital Magdala on 10th April 1868 and the King committed suicide on 13th April after which the prisoners were rescued. Magdala was razed to the ground on 17th April.
Approx 14,000 medals issued – 2 VC’s awarded to the 1st 2 men to enter Magdala (Drummer Michael Magner and Private James Bergin – both 33 Regt
The 4th Regiment participated in the battle of Magdala (ref extract of battle account below)
The Emperor ordered an attack, with many thousands of soldiers armed with little more than spears. The 4th Regiment of Foot quickly redeployed to meet the charging mass of warriors and poured a devastating fire into their ranks. When two Indian infantry regiments contributed their firepower, the onslaught became even more devastating. Despite this, the Abyssinian soldiers continued their attack, losing over 500 with thousands more wounded during the ninety minutes of fighting, most of them at little over 30 yards from the British lines. During the chaotic battle an advance guard unit of the 33rd Regiment overpowered some of the Abyssinian artillerymen and captured their artillery pieces. The surviving Abyssinian soldiers then retreated back onto Magdala.