Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign (2)

1798 to 1801

Map of Campaign

Some 5000 enemy became casualties while Bonaparte had just under 300 killed and injured.

The second force of some 100,000 under Ibrahim Bey retreated north-east towards Syria.

Three days later, the French took Cairo but the campaign's successes were ruined by Admiral Horatio Nelson's defeat of the French navy at Aboukir Bay, which saw Bonaparte's army cut off from its supply lines.

October of 1798 saw a bloody uprising in Cairo against the infidel invaders. Bonaparte's attempts to molify Egyptians by saying they were being freed from Mameluke rule did not succeed and when a mob of several thousand rampaged through the city it cost the lives of 300 Frenchmen. The rebellion ended after the Europeans turned their cannons on to the El Azhar mosque.

Next the invaders had to suffer an outbreak of the plague, which decimated French ranks, but Bonaparte's bravery again put heart into his troops when he personally visited the sick and dying at a time when even their physicians were avoiding them.

In February of 1799, Bonaparte marched at the head of 13,000 men towards Syria, where the Syrian leader, Djezzar Pasha, had organised a huge army to attack Egypt.

France was also now at war with Turkey and Bonaparte knew there were British plans to transport and land an Ottoman army to his rear.

Speed, therefore, was of the essence but the campaign got off to a poor start when a strong fort at El Arish held out for 10 days before surrendering.

The delay was crucial, as was another at Jaffa, when it was discovered that many of the troops in that city had given their word not to fight against the French having been given clemency at El Arish.


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