Doctor Witherspoon spreads the Word in the dark places of the earth.
His tribal congregation was allied with a band of Arab slavers who would strike from their base on the river to capture slaves from the less warlike tribes in the area. While in the neighborhood, the Marine commander, Captain Gary, was charged with the task of breaking up the Slaver ring.
Gratuitious picture of hungry giraffe
In due course the Marines landed near the native village and moved slowly inland (it was hot). The natives and their Arab friends saw them coming from miles away, and had massed their forces to resist this attempt to bring the blessings of Civilization to their corner of the world.
The Marines begin to deploy as the fast moving natives move to surround them
It was the firepower of the European breechloading rifles and gatling gun against the overwhelming numbers of natives.
The Arabs move in to close the trap
In the end numbers (and dice related misfortune) told, and the marines were overrun and wiped out.
Artist rendering of the last moments of the Lost ExpeditionSince there were no European survivors the newspaper accounts were free to imagine the heroic exploits of the Marines as they fell to the heathen hordes. The natives attribute their victory to the intervention of the Great Gray Cat.