The Fashoda Incident (18 September 1898) was the climax of a set of disputes over territory in Africa between the French and the British. France was pushing to east from its significant gains in the west of Africa, hoping to extend its territory into the Sudan and the Great Lakes region. Britain, on the other hand, wanted to be able to link up its territory in East Africa to Egypt and then build a grand railway from the Cape to Cairo. Behind it all, Germany was looking to take whatever opportunities came its way.
An expedition of 150 men departed from Gabon in 1896 under the instruction of the French Foreign Minister, Gabriel Hanotaux. The expedition's commander, Jean-Baptiste Marchand, took his people across the continent toward the east, reaching Fashoda on 10 July 1898. Sir Herbert Kitchener and his troops acting for the British, meanwhile, had to had to work their way south from Egypt, along the Nile, stopping off on the way to deal with the Mahdist Rebellion at Omdurman and Khatoum.
Kitchener reached Fashoda on 18 September. Mindful of the international implications of any conflict Marchand and Kitchener agreed to sit tight until they received diplomatic instruction, with both of them flying their country's flag above the fort.
On 4 November Marchand received instruction from the new French Foreign Minister Théophile Delcassé that he should withdraw, despite public outcry back in France. The French continued to press claims for a corridor to the White Nile, but this was rejected by Lord Salisbury the British Prime Minister (and Foreign Secretary), though it was agreed that the watershed of the Nile and Congo rivers would mark the boundary between British and French spheres of Influence in that region of Africa.