Friday, July 20, 2012

Napoleon out of Egypt (August 1799)

In March 1799, Napoleon led an army north from Cairo to Acre (then in Syria). His goals were to defeat the Ottoman army there and to take control of the city. After two months of intense fighting, Napoleon himself had to admit defeat and leave.

While Napoleon and his army were retreating from Acre, an Ottoman army landed at Aboukir Bay near Alexandria, Egypt, on July 11. Napoleon quickly gathered 10,000 French soldiers and, on July 25, attacked those 18,000 Ottoman soldiers sent against him. His army won a stunning victory. Napoleon took the commander of the Ottoman army and his son back to Cairo with him. He showed them to the people there in a parade of triumph.

After his defeat in Acre, Napoleon knew he did not have enough soldiers to beat Ottoman armies outside of Egypt. But even after his stunning victory at Aboukir Bay, Napoleon knew he could never keep control of Egypt. His army had simply lost too many soldiers in battles against Ottomans and by disease. Knowing that he would soon have to surrender control of Egypt to the Ottomans, he decided to return to France. On August 22, 1799, about 14 months after arriving in Egypt, Napoleon lied about his plans, abandoned the French army in Egypt, and returned to France.

In August 31, 1801, the French army in Egypt did indeed surrender but to the English. The soldiers were taken to France aboard English ships. Before they left Egypt, French leaders gave control of all the loot they had stolen from Egyptians, including priceless art from ancient days, to the English. The Ottoman ruler in Constantinople then regained control of Egypt.

Copyright © 2012 by Steven Farsaci. All rights reserved. Fair use encouraged.