France was still at war with Great Britain, and Bonaparte hoped to disrupt British trade routes to India and establish French domination in the exotic east. He eluded a British fleet, captured the port of Malta, and on July 1, , landed with 35, soldiers in Egypt. But it was really madness on his part because all of the military calculations at the time held that it was impossible for a European army to conquer the East. The Egyptian expedition is probably the craziest expedition in the history of France.
Remarkable for their courage, pride, and cruelty, the Mamelukes waited fearlessly for the French armies. The Mamelukes were brought up with fierce principles of courage and chivalry. Fear was not part of their tradition. By the author of The Conspiracy of Gowrie [i. Sir William Rough. The Life of Sir Sidney Smith Sidney Smith Book 3 editions published in in English and held by 5 WorldCat member libraries worldwide. Seas and skies in many latitudes; or, Wanderings in search of weather by Ralph Abercromby Book 1 edition published in in English and held by 4 WorldCat member libraries worldwide.
or the Reconquest of Egypt
History of the British expedition to Egypt Life of Sir R. Together with an accurate Statement of the Campaign in Egypt By an Officer in the Army. The Life of Marquis Cornwallis. Memoir of the life of the much-lamented Lieutenant-General Sir R. Soldiers, sailors, you have been neglected until this day; today, the greatest concern of the Republic is for you The genius of liberty, which made you, at her birth, the arbiter of Europe, wants to be genius of the seas and the furthest nations.
When Napoleon's fleet arrived off Malta, Napoleon demanded that the Knights of Malta allow his fleet to enter the port and take on water and supplies. Grand Master von Hompesch replied that only two foreign ships would be allowed to enter the port at a time. Under that restriction, re-victualling the French fleet would take weeks, and it would be vulnerable to the British fleet of Admiral Nelson. Napoleon therefore ordered the invasion of Malta. The French Revolution had significantly reduced the Knights' income and their ability to put up serious resistance.
Half of the Knights were French, and most of these knights refused to fight. French troops disembarked in Malta at seven points on the morning of 11 June. Louis Baraguey d'Hilliers landed soldiers and cannon in the western part of the main island of Malta, under artillery fire from Maltese fortifications.
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The French troops met some initial resistance but pressed forward. The Knights' ill-prepared force in that region, numbering only about 2,, regrouped. The French pressed on with their attack. After a fierce gun battle lasting twenty-four hours, most of the Knights' force in the west surrendered. Napoleon then opened negotiations.
British Victory Egypt End by Piers Mackesy - AbeBooks
Faced with vastly superior French forces and the loss of western Malta, von Hompesch surrendered the main fortress of Valletta. Napoleon departed Malta for Egypt. After successfully eluding detection by the Royal Navy for thirteen days, the fleet was in sight of Alexandria where it landed on 1 July, although Napoleon's plan had been to land elsewhere.
On the day of the landing, Napoleon told his troops "I promise to each soldier who returns from this expedition, enough to purchase six arpents of land. The peoples we will be living alongside are Muslims; their first article of faith is "There is no other god but God, and Mahomet is his prophet". Do not contradict them; treat them as you treated the Jews , the Italians; respect their muftis and their imams , as you respected their rabbis and bishops.
Have the same tolerance for the ceremonies prescribed by the Quran , for their mosques , as you had for the convents , for the synagogues , for the religion of Moses and that of Jesus Christ.
The Roman legions used to protect all religions. You will here find different customs to those of Europe, you must get accustomed to them. The people among whom we are going treat women differently to us; but in every country whoever violates one is a monster.
Pillaging only enriches a small number of men; it dishonours us, it destroys our resources; it makes enemies of the people who it is in our interest to have as our friends. The first city we will encounter was built by Alexander [the Great]. We shall find at every step great remains worthy of exciting French emulation. Menou had been the first to set out for Egypt, and was the first Frenchman to land. Bonaparte was informed that Alexandria intended to resist him and he rushed to get a force ashore. The city had not had time to surrender and put itself at the French's discretion but, despite Bonaparte's orders, the French soldiers broke into the city.
On 1 July Napoleon , aboard the ship L'Orient en route to Egypt, wrote the following proclamation to the Muslim inhabitants of Alexandria:. For too long the beys who govern Egypt have insulted the French nation and covered their traders in slanders. The hour of their punishment has come. For too long this horde of slaves, bought in the Caucasus and Georgia , have tyrannised the most beautiful part of the world; but God, on whom all depends, has ordained that their empire shall end. People of Egypt, they have told you that I come to destroy your religion, but do not believe it; [tell them] in reply [that] I come to restore your rights, punish the usurpers and that I respect God, his prophet and the Quran more than the Mamluks.
Tell them that all men are equal before God; wisdom, talents, virtues are the only things to make one man different from another Is there a more beautiful land? It belongs to the Mamluks.
Napoleon by the Nile: how the French emperor's Egypt invasion set the tone for Western incursions
If Egypt is their farm, then they should show the lease that God gave them for it Cadis, cheiks, imans, tchorbadjis, and notables of the nation [I ask you to] tell the people that we are true friends of Muslims. Wasn't it us who destroyed the Knights of Malta?
Wasn't it us who destroyed the Pope who used to say that he had a duty to make war on Muslims? Wasn't it us who have at all times been friends to the Great Lord and enemies to his enemies? Thrice happy are those who will be with us! They shall prosper in their fortune and in their rank. Happy are those who will be neutral! They will get to know us over time, and join their ranks with ours. But unhappy, thrice unhappy, are those who shall arm themselves [to fight] for the Mamluks and who shall fight against us!
There shall be no hope for them, they shall perish. When the whole expeditionary force had been disembarked, Admiral Brueys received orders to take the fleet to Aboukir Bay before anchoring the battle-fleet in the old port of Alexandria if possible or taking it to Corfu.
These precautions were made vital by the imminent arrival of the British fleet, which had already been seen near Alexandria 24 hours before the French fleet's arrival. The fleet arrived on 24 Messidor 12 July and the army began to march again at night, followed by the fleet. The winds' violence suddenly forced the fleet to the army's left and straight into the enemy fleet, which was supported by musket fire from 4, Mamluks, reinforced by peasants and Arabs.
The French fleet had numerical superiority but still lost its gunboats to the enemy. Attracted by the sound of gunfire, Bonaparte ordered his land force to the charge and attacked the village of Chebreiss, which was captured after two hours' fierce fighting. The enemy fled in disorder towards Cairo, leaving dead on the battlefield. After a day's rest at Chebreiss, the French land force continued the pursuit.
He is said to have shown his army the pyramids behind the enemy's left flank and at the moment of ordering the attack shouted "Soldiers, see the tops of the Pyramids" — in accounts written long afterwards, this phrase was altered into "Soldiers, remember that from the top of these pyramids, 40 centuries of history contemplate you", though historians later discovered that the pyramids were not visible from the battlefield. This was the start of the so-called Battle of the Pyramids , a French victory over an enemy force of about 21, Mamluks.
The French defeated the Mamluk cavalry with a giant infantry square , with cannons and supplies safely on the inside. In all French and approximately 6, Egyptians were killed. The battle gave rise to dozens of stories and drawings. Dupuy 's brigade pursued the routed enemy and at night entered Cairo, which had been abandoned by the beys Mourad and Ibrahim. On 4 Thermidor 22 July , the notables of Cairo came to Giza to meet Bonaparte and offered to hand over the city to him.
Abercromby, Ralph Sir 1734-1801
Three days later, he moved his main headquarters there. Desaix was ordered to follow Mourad, who had set off for Upper Egypt. An observation corps was put in place at Elkanka to keep an eye on the movements of Ibrahim, who was heading towards Syria. Bonaparte personally led the pursuit of Ibrahim, beat him at Salahie and pushed him completely out of Egypt. The transports had sailed back to France, but the battle fleet stayed and supported the army along the coast. The British fleet under the command of Horatio Nelson had been searching in vain for the French fleet for weeks.
The British fleet had not found it in time to prevent the landings in Egypt, but on 1 August Nelson discovered the French warships anchored in a strong defensive position in the Bay of Abukir.
Related The British Victory in Egypt, 1801: The End of Napoleons Conquest
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