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September 18, 1898

Discussion in '"Today in History", Literature & Media Review' started by Martin Antonenko, Sep 18, 2022.

  1. Martin Antonenko A Fixture

    The war for Fashoda is canceled!

    For a few days in 1898, Europe was on the brink of war between rival colonial powers France and Great Britain!

    And it came like this...:

    Both Britain and France wished to round off their respective colonial "holdings" in Africa.

    The British relied on a continuous north-south connection between Egypt, which they ruled, and the Cape Colony!

    The French meanwhile had their sights set on a continuous colonial "land bridge" between their "possessions in West Africa (Senegal and de facto Morocco) to East Africa (Djibouti)...:


    In fact, it was all too clear that these conflicting aspirations would eventually and somewhere clash - but both governments were so careless and overbearing that no preparations were made for such an event!
    Each side relied on the other to back down in the event of a dispute.

    On September 18, 1898, a flotilla of several British gunboats, after traveling up the Nile for several weeks, reached the market town of Fashoda in Sudan...:


    The British not only have soldiers on board who want to take a quick look, but the Egyptian "Sirdar" (Commander-in-Chief) the British General Sir Horatio Herbert Kitchener (later War Minister) is personally on board and is said to be in charge of this part of Sudan for the British crown take possession.

    The British, however, were absolutely amazed when they landed, that there were not only "natives" in Fashoda (who, of course, would not have been asked for their will!), but that there was a fort in the city - the remains of which are still there today. ..:


    A small fort only, but a fort nonetheless! And above it flies - the French tricolor!

    And when the British, still stunned, come ashore...


    ... they are by Major Jean-Baptiste Marchand...


    ... politely welcomed as guests on French soil in the name of the French Republic...:


    After a foot march - coming from Brazzaville in the Congo - Marchand was with a small military column of twelve officers...


    ... and 150 Senegalese tirailleurs...


    ... already reached Fashoda on July 10, 1898, hoisted the tricolor (thus "taking possession" of the city for France), repaired the old Arab fort and christened "Saint Louis".


    Even among his contemporaries, "Sirdar" Kitchener was not necessarily known for his diplomatic instincts...


    ...and so he rudely snaps at the young French major, who should kindly go to hell with his troops!


    Marchand then becomes even more polite than he already was and replies that as far as he is concerned he would happily comply with the Englishman's wishes, but that he is here on behalf of his government. He deeply regrets it, but he cannot march out until his government has issued a corresponding order.

    The Frenchman then bows and marches back to the fort. The gates slam shut - and gun barrels stretch over the clay walls.

    So there the duped Brits are standing in the mud of the Nile - and I can well imagine the "Sirdar" Kitcherner turning deep red and unbuttoning the collar button of his tight uniform before his eyes pop out of his sockets.

    When the news from Fashoda reached Europe, the newspapers (and many politicians) in both countries shouted "War!"
    One hasn't really been "green" since Napoleon's times...

    But the governments see things differently:

    The British are discreetly instructing Kitchener to please leave his saber in his pocket! One will negotiate! War over a few square kilometers of desert, a few eggborn huts and a adobe fort - shocking!

    And besides, the British know they have the better cards! As rulers of Egypt, they can build on the - enduring - position of the Khedive in Cairo, who regards Sudan as an Egyptian province (see map above!)

    After a moment's thought, this also became clear to the French government. And besides, in Paris one also reads foreign newspapers - German ones, for example...:

    And the German press (and Kaiser Wilhelm the Loudmouth) make no secret of their joy that the British and French will soon tear each other apart - and that the German Empire will then have a nice win in store.

    The French even read from the newspapers that they have to fear a German attack in the rear if they start a war with England.

    French Foreign Minister Théophile Delcassé...

    ...then takes matters into his own hands:

    He signals to the British that his country will give way, as it does not want war but rather an alliance with the British.

    And in view of the German rearmament, especially at sea, and Kaiser Wilhelm's constant saber-rattling, the British are very impressed by this proposal!

    you nod.

    Then, in his dusty fort, Marchand received his government's marching orders and evacuated Fashoda with his few soldiers - probably very relieved.

    And the British can finally hoist their flag - of course not the "Union Jack" so decency one has after all, but that of the Egyptian Khedive (who formally still "rules" there in the name of the Ottoman Sultan")...:


    A little later, France and Great Britain conclude the so-called "Sudan Treaty", which is called that, but which is about much more than just Sudan!

    All colonial issues are completely cleared up and the areas of mutual interest in Africa are mutually defined.

    So no war!

    Kaiser Wilhelm (and with him the German press) reacted with disappointment and accused the French of "cowardice".

    The Kaiser (and his generals with him) would have been more than just disappointed if they had known that the "Sudan Treaty" marked the birth of close political (and also military) cooperation between France and Great Britain - the "Entente Cordiale". is...

    Marchand becomes a folk hero after his return from Fashoda in France!


    He gets the "Légion d'Honneur" and makes a steep military career. In 1916, as Génèral de Division he barely survived a serious wound (he was initially thought to be dead)...:


    He died at Paris in 1934...:


    His counterpart Kitchener was less fortunate in World War I: he became Minister of War and his striking likeness adorned millions of Royal Army recruitment posters...


    When Kitchener is en route to visit Russia, the armored cruiser HMS "Hampshire" on which he is traveling...


    ...am 5. Juni 1916 nördlich der Orkney-Inseln auf eine deutsche Mine...:


    The ship sinks with over 600 men (only 12 survivors), Kitchener's body is never found.

  2. Nap A Fixture

    Interesting...if only we could cancel wars now!

    sd0324 and Martin Antonenko like this.
  3. Martin Antonenko A Fixture

    Fully agree!

    But as long as there are bloody imperialists like Wowa Putin are in the world, I fear we couldn't...



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