1800 - Death of General Kléber


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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1800 British and French Fleets - Mediterranean 24

between the French army under General Kléber, stated at 10,000 men, and the Turkish army under the Grand Vizier Jussuf, stated at the enormous amount of from 60,000 to 80,000 men. After five days' fighting in the plains of the province of Charquieh, during which the Turks were driven from village to village, the French gained the entire victory ; and the grand vizier, taking horse at Salalieh, fled across the desert with scarcely 500 followers, leaving his camp, artillery, and baggage to the conquerors. Of the loss on the French aide we are not informed, but it was probably of trifling amount; while the loss of the Turks, including those left dead on the field, or different fields of battle, massacred by the Arabs, and who perished in the desert, is represented to have exceeded 50,000.

After the suppression of a revolt at Cairo, and the expulsion of a small British force under Lieutenant-colonel Murray, which had been disembarked from the 50-gun ship Centurion, and some smaller vessels at Suez, General Kléber, towards the end of the month of April, found himself again in tolerably quiet possession of the principal posts formerly occupied by the French army in Egypt.

It was not, it appears, until towards the middle of June, that General Kléber received any intimation of the desire of the British government to renew the convention which had been broken off in the manner we have related. Either feeling not disposed to trust a second time to those who had once deceived him, or fancying himself too firmly established in his possession to be easily ousted, the French general refused to negotiate; and instantly began strengthening the principal defences along the coast, and making the best arrangements in his power to repel the attack which, he considered it likely, would soon be made by the British.

An event, however, soon occurred, which the French Egyptian army had good reason to deplore. On the 14th of June, as General Kléber, accompanied by the architect Protain, was walking along a terrace belonging to his palace at Cairo, a stranger, indifferently habited in the oriental costume, rushed out of an adjoining gallery and stabbed the general with a poniard. Mortally wounded, General Kléber had only time to support himself against the wall of the terrace, and call out to a domestic whom he saw approaching, " A moi, guide, je suis assassiné !" M. Protain, in the mean while, having no arms but a small stick, was endeavouring to hold the murderer till some one arrived to secure him; but the latter, stabbing M. Protain badly, but not mortally, in six places, disengaged himself, and, having replunged his dagger into the heart of his first victim, fled into the gardens of the palace. On seeing the commander-in-chief fall, the guide, instead of running towards him, hastened to the house of General Dumas where a large party of general officers was then assembled.

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