|Emperor Menelik II|
Of the four Italian brigades, one was annihilated and another already close to the same fate when General Baratieri realized none of his messages had gotten through or if they had, lack of knowledge of terrain meant they had not been properly followed. He tried to organize a strong defensive position in the center of his intended battle line but, for the most part, by that time it was too little and too late. Fleeing troops overran these positions with Ethiopian warriors hot on their heels and despite some heroic stands the Italian position began to totally disintegrate. General Vittorio Dabormida, commanding the brigade sent to the relief of Albertone, was trapped and wiped out by Ethiopian forces, including the tough Oromo cavalry under Ras Mikael. Virtually the entire brigade was destroyed and again, the commanding general was among the dead.
|Menelik II triumphants|
Still, the most lasting effect of the battle of Adowa was in the symbolism of it. Not since the Zulu victory at Isandlwana in 1879 had a European army been so totally defeated by a force of African natives. Even after Italy evened the score in 1935-36, Africans never forgot the battle of Adowa and African nationalists invoked the memory of that victory to inspire a new generation in the decades after World War II to rally to the cause of overthrowing the European colonial governments and asserting independence for the nations of Africa.