Jean-Baptiste Marchand, French explorer and soldier, is best known today for his occupation of Fashoda, now known as Kodok, in the Sudan in 1898.
Marchand served in Senegal in 1889 and was present at the capture of Diena. Severely wounded, Marchland was made a chevalier of the Légion d'honneur. In the early 1890s he explored the sources of the River Niger, as well as traveling to the western Sudan, and the interior of Côte d'Ivoire. In 1896 he was sent by the then French foreign minister, Gabriel Hanotaux, to travel from the Gabon to the Red Sea with an expedition of 150 men. France wanted to link its West African territories to potential trade opportunities on the west coast. Major Marchand traveled across the continent (3,200 km / 2000 miles of territory relatively unexplored by Europeans), arriving at Fashoda on 10 July 1898, and took occupation of the fort.
At the same time Britain was attempting to extend its African Colonies through the continent by linking Uganda to Egypt, by retaking the Sudan, and building a Cape to Cairo railway.
Marchand's occupation lead to the Fashoda Incident when British forces under the command of Herbert Kitchener marched up the Nile reclaiming the Sudan. Kitchener reached Fashoda on 11 September 1898, and temporary truce was agreed. On 9 November the new French foreign minister, Théophile Delcassé, ordered Marchand to withdraw in order to avoid further conflict (and the risk of war) between France and Britain.