The employment of indigenous troops in European colonial armies was commonplace throughout the nineteenth century. It offset the military cost of empire, and was often employed as a tactic to elevate one group of peoples over another. The askari raised by the Italians in Eritrea were, by all accounts, well trained and disciplined. Although they were not provided with the newest repeating rifles, it is clear their performance at Adowa exhibited a high level of professionalism. Likewise, the British Indian sepoy regiments were certainly professionals of the highest calibre, and French colonial troops, such as the Zouaves of Algeria or Senegalese Tiralleurs, were considered elite troops.
The majority of Albertone's brigade at Adowa was composed of askari battalions, and while their formations broke against Ethiopian attacks, it was only after their ammunition ran out and their position became untenable several hours after the initial contact.
Baratieri's Forces at ...read more