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Dr. William Wroten

Delmarva Heritage Series

* Shore Native Carved Distinguished Career For Self on Two Continents

Salisbury Times - September 24, 1958

Several weeks ago this column featured the story of the French Acadians who came to Maryland in 1755, especially those sent to the Eastern Shore. These Frenchman, it will be recalled were of the Roman Catholic faith.

Today's article features a Shoreman of entirely different French ancestry who became famous in four different professions - soldier, explorer, diplomat and author; but who for one reason or another, is almost unknown by the people of his native land.

Charles Chaille-Long, born July 2, 1842 at Princess Anne, Somerset County, was the great-grandson of Pierre Chaille; a French Huguenot who had settled on the Eastern Shore after Louis XIV had revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. The Edict of Nantes issued in 1598 by Henry IV had granted certain protection to the French Protestants, better known as Huguenots. After the revocation in 1685, more than 50,000 Huguenot families fled from France to such places as Russia, Holland, Belgium, England, and the British colonies of North America. Because these French Protestants for the most part were people of practical skills and intellectual gifts, they strengthened the countries which gave them haven. Charles Chaille-Long was the son of Littleton Long of Chaille, and Anne Mitchell Costen.

The CIVIL WAR broke out while Charles was a student at the famous Washington Academy, and he forsook his classroom for the army. Hen enlisted in the 1st Eastern Shore Regiment, Maryland Infantry. However, he soon was transferred and promoted to a captaincy in the 11th Maryland Infantry with which he served throughout the was with distinction. He saw action at Gettysburg and Harper's Ferry and served in the defense of Washington D.C. He was discharged at the end of the War, June 15, 1865.

His adventurous spirit led him in 1869 to join the Egyptian army as a lieutenant-colonel. At first he was assigned to the military academy at Abbassick as a professor of French, but later was made chief of staff to the general of the Egyptian army. In 1872 he was transferred to the military corp at Alexandria, and two years later became chief of staff to Gen. Charles G. Gordon, probably better known in history as "Chinese" Gordon. Gordon at this time was governor-general of the equatorial provinces of Egypt, assigned to suppress the slave traffic operating in the White Nile region.

AT THIS TIME Khedive Ismail Pacha sent Chaille-Long on a secret diplomatic and geographical mission to M'tesa, King of Uganda, in the region of the Equator. In June, 1874 he arrived at Nyanda, the second white man on record to visit that area, and he was successful in gaining a treaty whereby King M'tesa acknowledged himself as a vassal of Egypt, which really annexed Uganda to Egypt.

Having completed this portion of his mission, Chaille-Long began tracing the unknown region of the upper Nile River basin, finally solving the problem of the Nile's source. While at M'roole (or M'ruli), he and his men (two soldiers and servants) were attacked by the King of Unyoro Kaba-Rega and a large party of warriors. But Chaille-Long and his men, armed with breech-loading rifles and exploding shells, were able to beat off the natives after a battle of several hours. For this service he was promoted to the rank of colonel and decorated with the "Gross of the Commander of the Medjidick". In his book, Central Africa - Naked Truths of Naked People, published in 1876 he gave a very accurate account of his exploration in the Upper Nile River basin. The importance of his geographical explorations was brought out in a letter from Gen. Gordon, published in the New York Herald, Jan. 23, 1880, which read, "Col. Chaille-Long of the Egyptian staff passed down the Victoria Nile from Nyamyongo . . . thus at the risk of his life settling the question before unsolved of the identification of the river above Urondogani with that below Mooli."

LATER CAMPAIGNS and explorations carried him south to the equator into the Niam-Niam country and led to the opening up of an equatorial road from the Indian Ocean along the Juba River to the central African lakes. Because of disease contracted on these journeys he retired from service and returned to the United States in August, 1877. In New York City he attended law school at Columbia University from which he graduated in 1880.

Two years after he had received his law degree, having specialized in international law, he returned to Alexandria, Egypt, to establish his practice. On June 11, 1882, shortly after his arrival, an insurrection of the Arabs resulted in a terrible massacre. With the assistance of 160 American sailors and marines in the locality Chaille-Long re-established the American consulate and gave protection to May refugees. He was later decorated for his service. Upon being relieved his duties as acting consul-general two months later, he went to Paris, France to engage in the practice of international law.

From 1887-1889 he was again with the foreign service, this time as consul-general and secretary to the American Legation in Korea. During his stay in Korea he took part in a scientific expedition to Quelpart Island at the entrance of the Yellow Sea.

CHAILLE-LONG was the author of numerous articles in American and French magazines, especially on Egyptian and African subjects. Henry E. Shepherd, in The Representative Authors of Maryland, 1911, wrote: "... his range is as diverse in the literacy sphere as in science or the province of the explorer." His books were written either in French or English. These include such works as "L' Afrique Centrale", "Les Sources du Nile", 1891, "L'Egypte et ses Provinces Perdues", 1892, "La Coree ou Chosen", 1894, "Les Combatants Francais de la Guerre Americaine, 1778-83", 1950, "Three Prophets", 1884, and "My Life in Two Continents", 1912.

The honors bestowed upon Chaille-Long were many: Cross of Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur for exceptional services to France; Commandeur Cross Medjidieh and Cross Osmanieh for exceptional services to Egypt; letters of thanks from the State Department in 1882 and 1888 for exceptional services to the United States in Egypt and Korea, and on Feb. 15, 1910, the American Geographical Society conferred upon him the Charles P. Daly Gold Medal which was given only to those individuals who had a marked contribution to the field of geography.

And finally this shoreman of note, who died March 24, 1917, was honored by his native state in 1904. The Maryland General Assembly (1904 Laws of Md., Chap. 3, p. 1270 unanimously passed the following:

Resolved, By the General Assembly of Maryland that the thanks of the Assembly are hereby tendered to Col. Charles Chaille-Long, native of Maryland, for his services to science, - the prominent part taken in the final solution of the problem of the Nile sources; for his galland conduct when attacked by savage tribes in Africa and particularly in the affair "M'ruli, in which he was wounded; all of which achievements were recognized by promotion, decoration, and a general order by the Egyptian Government published to the army. Also for his courage, devotion and abnegation in accepting the unremunerative charge of the United States Consulate in Alexandria, Egypt, in 1882, when abandoned by its titular agents in a moment of peril; for his splendid services rendered in the interest of humanity when Alexandria was bombarded and burned and when hundreds were saved from massacre, including the Khedive's family and court, and when the consulate archives and city of Alexandria were saved from entire destruction. Be it further,

Resolved, That in testimony of his distinguished services in Africa and at Alexandria, the Governor is hereby authorized and required to have made a gold medal of the size of one silver half-dollar with appropriate device and motto, also a copy of the resolutions properly inscribed, and cause the same to be presented to Col. Charles Chaille-Long in testimony of the high sense of his services entertained by the General Assembly of the State of Maryland.

It is hoped that when Princess Anne has her well earned days of honor this Fall, the good people in charge of the celebration will also pay honor to native son, Col. Charles Chaille-Long.


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