Kitchener unsuccessfully endeavoured to capture Osman Digna on the 17th of January 1888, but in the attack was himself severely wounded, and was shortly after invalided.
Although he had set his troops in motion too late to relieve Kassala, Ras Alula, his chief general, had succeeded in inflicting a handsome defeat on Osman Digna at Kufit in September 1885.
By the end of August Osman Digna had occupied Kufit, in the Barea country, with 10,000 men and entrenched himself.
The khalifa, fearing an attack on Olndurman, moved Osman Digna from Adarama to Shendi.
But at the end of February, Mahmud crossed the Nile to Shendi with some 12,000 fighting men, and with Osman Digna advanced along the right bank of the Nile to Ahab, where he struck across the desert to Nakheila, on the Atbara, intending to turn Kitcheners left flank at Berber.
In January 1891 Osman Digna showed signs of increased activity, and Colonel (afterwards Sir Charles) Holled Smith, then governor of the Red Sea littoral, attacked Handub successfully on the 27th and occupied it, then seized Trinkitat and Teb, and on the 19th of February fought the decisive action of Afafit, occupied Tokar, and drove Osman Digna back to Temrin with a loss of 700 men, including Baffle of all his chief amirs.
When the Sudan War broke out, Baker, hastening with 3 500 men to relieve Tokar, encountered the enemy under Osman Digna at El Teb.
Unfortunately famine compelled the garrison of Kassala to capitulate on the 3oth of July of that year, and Osman Digna hurried there from Tamai to raise a force with which to meet the Abyssinian general, Ras Alula, who was preparing for its relief.