Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign
1798 to 1801
Casualties in Egypt
French attempt to exert influence over Egypt was due to
economics, a political need to weaken Britain and the personal
needs of General Napoleon
Bonaparte, who saw the shadow of unemployment - and
a loss of influence - looming as his armies in Italy were
nearing the end of their successful struggles against Austria.
seen the benefits of Britain's profitable colonies, France's
Directory listened to Bonaparte's
idea to invade Egypt, expel
the ruling Mamelukes and establish a modern style of government
friendly towards French ways.
three months, the young general had raised and outfitted
an expeditionary force of just under 40,000, which included
scientists, engineers and veteran
troops from the Army of Italy.
On the way, the French seized Malta,
and its considerable treasury, and then proceeded on towards
Alexandria where the city fell to Bonaparte within hours
of the French fleet's arrival.
first major engagement against the Mamelukes occurred at
El Rahmaniya, where Bonaparte showed the fierce, excellent
horsemen that their bravery could not match modern European
weapons and tactics.
French forces then continued their difficult march down
the Nile towards Cairo, enduring heat, disease and exhaustion.
On 21 July they drew within sight of Cairo and were treated
to an awe-inspiring view of the
Pyramids and a large Arab and Mameluke army. The total
force was some 120,000 men in two bodies. The first, under
Murad Bey, was some 6000 Mamelukes
and 15,000 irregular troops. Ibrahim
Bey's army - estimated at 100,000 - was split from the
vanguard and waited across the Nile. They took no part in
large squares that incorporated cannon the 25,000 French
troops waited for the Mameluke assault under Murad
Bey and when it came repulsed the attacks with steady,