1799 - French and Turks at Aboukir


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol II
1799 British and French Fleets 296

in their expedition into Syria, was much greater than they were willing, or even able, to make known.

After affording to the Turks such further assistance as was in his power, Sir Sidney, on the 12th of June, set sail from the bay of Acre ; and proceeded, first to Beruta road on the same coast, and afterwards to Lamica road, Cyprus, in order to refit his little squadron. He then departed for Constantinople, to concert with the Porte measures for entirely extirpating the French from Egypt.

On the 3d of July Rear-admiral Ganteaume, who had been attending Buonaparte at his head-quarters at Cairo, arrived at Alexandria, after a narrow escape from the Arabs in his way down the Nile. In obedience to the orders he had received, the rear-admiral immediately began preparing for sea the Muiron and Carrère. By these, the two fastest sailing and best-conditioned of the ex-Venetian frigates in the port, Buonaparte intended, when the opportunity offered, to attempt to get back to France ; in compliance, it would appear, with the wish of the "directory in the present critical state of France, as expressed in a letter from them, dated on the 26th of May, and received by Buonaparte soon after his return to Cairo from the Syrian expedition. On the 11th, the signal-post at Alexandria unexpectedly announced the appearance of 76 vessels, of which number 12 were made out to be Turkish men of war. In the course of the day 15 other vessels hove in sight, and followed the first to the bay of Aboukir ; where these two divisions, with a third not seen from Alexandria, came to an anchor; forming a total of 113 vessels, including thirteen 74s, nine frigates, and 17 gun-boats : the remainder were transports with troops. This numerous fleet was under the command of Hassan-Bey ; and the troops, whose reputed number was 18,000, under that of Seid-Mustapha-Pacha.

General Marmont, the governor of Alexandria, as soon as he had despatched a messenger to the commander-in-chief, marched with 1200 men and five pieces of cannon towards Aboukir, to oppose the Turks on their landing. But, meeting an express from Captain Godard, who with 300 men commanded at Aboukir, announcing that the Turks had already disembarked, and were now investing the fort, the general returned to Alexandria, to await further reinforcements. For this, General Marmont was afterwards much blamed by Buonaparte. "Avec vos douze cents hommes, " says the latter in his usual confident manner, "je serais allé jusqu'à Constantinople." *

The fort or castle of Aboukir was situated at the extremity of a narrow neck of land upon a rock of difficult access, and was protected on the land side by a redoubt thrown up at the entrance of the peninsula. Into this redoubt Captain Godard

* Victoires et Conquêtes, tome xi., p. 25.

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