Sub-Saharan Africa 1898: Fashoda Incident
In July 1898, while the British were fighting the Mahdists in northern Sudan, a French force crossed into southern Sudan and occupied the strategic settlement of Fashoda. After defeating the Mahdists at Omdurman in September, the British hurried south to confront the French. The standoff triggered a crisis in Europe, with both nations preparing for war, but eventually France backed down and recognized Anglo-Egyptian rule in Sudan.
1 May–29 Sep 1898 Third Mandingo War▲
In early May 1898 the French seized Sikasso, bringing an end to the Kénédougou Kingdom. From Sikasso a French column under Captain Gouraud then advanced south against Samori Ture’s Wassoulou Empire on 12 August, but, anticipating this move, Samori had already fled towards the Liberian border. Gouraud chased Samori through the savanna and mountain forest, eventually capturing him on 29 September and sending him into exile in Gabon.
14 Jun 1898 Niger Convention▲
In June 1898 Britain and France signed the Convention between Great Britain and France for the Delimitation of their respective Possessions to the West of the Niger, and of their respective Possessions and Spheres of Influence to the East of that River—or Niger Convention—concluding the partition of West Africa by finally fixing the boundary between Northern Nigeria and the French Sudan. The agreed border placed the Sultanate of Sokoto within the British sphere and divided the coast of Lake Chad. The treaty also clarified the frontier between the Gold Coast and the neighboring French colonies.
10 Jul 1898 Marchand Mission▲
In July 1896 Captain Jean-Baptiste Marchand arrived in the French Congo to lead an expedition to the Upper Nile, eventually establishing a number of French stations in the Bahr El Ghazal (the Sudan south of Darfur) in late 1897 and early 1898, including Fort Desaix (Wau). From here Marchand and his largely Senegalese force pushed downriver with the help of a portable steamer, arriving at the strategic White Nile settlement of Fashoda (Kodok) in July, which they occupied in the face of Mahdist opposition. However, a simultaneous effort under Christian de Bonchamps to reach Fashoda from French Somaliland (Djibouti) was forced to turn back while crossing Ethiopia, denying Marchand needed reinforcements and undermining the French bid to build an east–west axis in Africa.
30 Aug 1898 Anglo-German Agreement of 1898▲
In August 1898, during secret discussions over an Anglo-German alliance, British politician Lord Arthur Balfour and German diplomat Paul von Hatzfeldt agreed to resolve Portugal’s ongoing financial problems with a joint loan, in return for which they would divide the Portuguese Empire. Britain would receive Angola between the 12th and 8th parallels and Mozambique south of the Zambezi—and by implication gaining power over the surrounded Boer republics—while Portuguese Timor and the rest of Angola and Mozambique would go to Germany. Although not officially informed of these terms, Portugal was wary of the ensuing Anglo-German overtures to provide a loan and, after further negotiations, the British sidelined the Germans by reaffirming the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance on 14 October 1899.
2 Sep 1898 Battle of Omdurman▲
In early September 1898 British general Sir Herbert Kitchener led a force of 8,000 British regulars and 17,000 Egyptian and Sudanese troops, supported by a 12-gunboat flotilla on the nearby Nile, to threaten the village of Egeiga, just north of the Mahdist base of operations at Omdurman. Some 50,000 Mahdist warriors under Abdullah al-Taashi moved into position to oppose Kitchener, attacking the British at around 6:00 on the morning of the 2nd, only to be repelled by British Maxim guns. The British then struck back with their own cavalry and, defeating a number of surprise counterattacks, decisively routed the Mahdist army later that day, allowing the British to march on into Khartoum.
19 Sep–3 Nov 1898 Fashoda Incident▲
In mid-September 1898 British general Sir Herbert Kitchener led five gunboats and 1,500 troops up the White Nile to Fashoda (Kodok), where he encountered the much smaller French garrison of Captain Jean-Baptiste Marchand. Although both commanders behaved with politeness and restraint, the news of this standoff over Fashoda—claimed by Britain as part of the Egyptian Sudan and by France due to both occupation and its 1894 treaty with the Congo Free State—inflamed Anglo-French rivalries and triggered an international crisis. Eventually France backed down, peacefully ending the crisis by ordering its forces to withdraw from the region in early November.