The Widow's Uniform – Part 12 of 15:
Holidaying in Bermuda in 1894, Kipling was entertained by a veteran Sergeant who confided in him this shameful tale. Kipling did not identify the action but it appears to have involved a North African unit, very likely part of the Sudan Expeditionary Force on their ill-fated mission to relieve Khartoum and rescue General Gordon. Contemporary accounts of the first battle of El Tab on 4th February 1884 describe the flight of Baker Pasha's troops in very similar terms.
If Kipling truly was the one-eyed Imperial propagandist that some allege, one can only assume that this poem – among many – must have been written by some other fellow entirely.