Timeline of Events 1859–1899

1859American colonel William Loring travels to Europe, the Middle East and Egypt. He meets Egypt’s ruler, Saïd. Construction begins on the Suez Canal.
1861The American Civil War begins. Egyptian cotton exports begin to skyrocket.
1862Saïd dies; Ismail becomes Viceroy of Egypt.
1865The Civil War ends. Bottom falls out of the Egyptian cotton market.
1866Ismail purchases the right of primogeniture from the Ottomans.
1867Ismail purchases the title of Khedive from the Ottomans. In a meeting with Ismail, French sculptor Frédéric-Auguste Bartholdi proposes the construction of a large statue at the entrance of the Suez Canal. While not commissioned, the project will lead to the creation of America’s Statue of Liberty.
1868Ismail meets Thaddeus Mott in Constantinople. Mott convinces the Khedive to use American Civil War veterans to help modernize the Egyptian army.
1869The Suez Canal opens amid great fanfare. Mott enlists the aid of William Sherman to find volunteers for the Egyptian army. Their first recruit is William Loring. Ismail is forced to turn over his new ironclad ships to the Ottoman Empire.
1870Loring and Henry Hopkins Sibley arrive in Egypt. They are soon followed by another 18 Americans. Charles Stone begins establishing schools for the men in each army battalion.
1871Loring is put in charge of Egypt’s coastal defenses, including Alexandria. Aida debuts at the Cairo Opera House.
1872William Sherman visits Egypt. The shooting affray in Alexandria takes place. King John is named emperor of Ethiopia.
1873Cornelius Hunt becomes the first American to die in the service of Egypt. Free schools for the education of soldiers’ sons are opened.
1874Ismail gives Charles “Chinese” Gordon control of the Sudan and equatorial regions. Charles Chaillé-Long travels to Uganda to establish relations with King M’Tesa. On the return journey, he discovers Lake Kioga. Ismail spends some $15 million on the weddings of three of his children.
1875The last large influx of American officers, as 11 more arrive. American-led expeditions explore the desert regions of Darfur and Kordofan. Søren Arendrup and much of his Egyptian expeditionary force are wiped out by King John. The Abyssinian campaign begins. Ratib Pasha is put in charge of the expedition, Loring is named second-in-command. Troops begin sailing to Massowah. With his debt problems mounting, Ismail sells more than 175,000 shares of stock in the Suez Canal to England.
1876Henry Irgins becomes the final American to join the Egyptian army. Ratib’s army moves into Abyssinia and occupies the Gura Valley. King John attacks the invaders, and nearly routs Ratib’s main force. The Egyptians successfully repel a second Abyssinian attack. By mid-year, the Egyptians abandon the interior and return home. Two commissions begin examining Egypt’s debt problems; English and French overseers are appointed to the Egyptian Ministry of Finance.
1877Russia and Turkey go to war; Egypt sends a token force to Bulgaria. Alexander Mason discovers the Semliki River. Loring’s anonymous account of the Gura debacle, “The Egyptian Campaign In Abyssinia,” is printed in Europe and America. Chaillé-Long publishes an account of his explorations, Central Africa: Naked Truths of Naked People. Egypt’s debt crisis worsens.
1878Former President Ulysses Grant visits Egypt. The British and French impose financial control over the Egyptian government. The new ministry decides to eliminate more than 80 percent of the army. Nine of the ten remaining American officers are discharged from the Egyptian army, leaving only Charles Stone. Ismail turns his private property over to his creditors.
1879Four hundred unpaid Egyptian officers riot; Ismail dismisses the foreign-controlled government. The British and French pressure the Ottoman sultan to depose the Khedive. Ismail is forced to abdicate in favor of his son, Tewfik.
1880William Dye’s Moslem Egypt and Christian Abyssinia is published.
1881The Arabi revolt begins. The Mahdi begins his rebellion in the Sudan.
1882Arabi takes control of the Ministry of War. The British and French demand his removal; riots break out across the country. The British shell Alexandria (the French do not, and lose almost all influence in Egypt). A British land force defeats Arabi at Tel-el-Kebir. In the Sudan, an Egyptian army of 6,000 is massacred by the Mahdi’s forces.
1883An Egyptian army of 7,000 under General William Hicks is destroyed by the Mahdi near El Obeid. Charles Stone leaves the Egyptian army.
1884Loring’s A Confederate Soldier in Egypt is published. An Egyptian army under British general Valentine Baker is defeated by the Mahdi. “Chinese” Gordon arrives in Khartoum.
1885In January, following a ten-month siege, Gordon perishes in Khartoum. A British relief expedition belatedly arrives two days later. The Mahdi dies in June.
1886Bartholdi’s Statue of Liberty makes its debut (with help from Charles Stone, Samuel Lockett and James Morgan). Loring passes away in New York City.
1887Stone dies in New York.
1889King John is killed while fighting Mahdist forces in the Sudan.
1890Tewfik dies at the age of 50.
1895Ismail dies in Constantinople; he is buried in Cairo.
1899Britain finally reconquers the Sudan from the Mahdists. One of Lord Horatio Kitchener’s cavalry officers is a young Winston Churchill. William Dye passes away.

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