22 March 1801
at Aboukir with 18,000 men, Britain's Sir Ralph Abercromby
tried to push through the French positions sealing the narrow
isthmus that led to Alexandria.
defence, however, foiled the move and so the British withdrew
and set up defensive works of their own.
A strong body of French reinforcements arrived and so General
Jacques-Francois Menou decided to throw the British off
with a daring night attack.
local spy tipped off the British, but Menou's plan was sufficiently
clever to render the early warning almost useless.
His men began an expected attack against the weaker British
left wing but this was only a feint and the true target
- the strong British right protected by Roman ruins and
a redoubt - soon came under massive pressure.
for the redcoats, the troops there were led by the brilliant
General Sir John Moore, who stemmed
the assault and then ordered a bayonet-led counterattack
by the 42nd Highlanders that sent the French into retreat
- but advanced too far and was cut down by enemy horsemen.
situation was still dangerous for the British but reinforcements
arrived just in time and overwhelmed the exhausted French.
lost 3000 men while the British suffered 1300 casualties,
including the mortally wounded Abercromby who died a week