1801 - Capture of Suez


 
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Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
1801 British Expedition to Egypt 107

some account must be given of the British and native troops from Bombay, amounting to about 6000, which, according to the original plan of proceeding, were to have co-operated with those disembarked on the shores of the Mediterranean.

On the 21st of April the British 50-gun ship Leopard, Captain Thomas Surridge, bearing the flag of Rear-admiral John Blankett, anchored in the road of Suez, with two or three frigates and sloops, and about the same number of transports. On the 22d, at daybreak, an officer and a party of the 86th regiment landed from the Leopard, and took possession of the town of Suez, which the French garrison had previously evacuated. At 8 a.m. the British union jack was hoisted at the flag staff on shore. In a day or two afterwards the transports disembarked their troops; and on the 14th of May Lieutenant-colonel Lloyd, of the 86th regiment landed from the Leopard. On the 6th of June, every thing being in readiness, Lieutenant-colonel Lloyd, with his detachment numbering about 320 men, set out to march across the desert to Cairo, a distance, by the regular route, of about 60 miles, but by the route intended to be taken, in order to avoid meeting a superior force of the enemy, somewhat more. On the occasion of the departure of the British detachment upon this hazardous service, the Leopard fired a salute of 11 guns.

On the 13th the Leopard and vessels in her company sailed from Suez, and on the 15th anchored in the bay of Kosseir ; where were lying the 50-gun ship Romney, Captain Sir Home Riggs Popham, and 12-pounder 36-gun frigate Sensible (armed en flute, we believe), Captain Robert Sauce, with several transports. These, since the 9th, had landed Major-general Baird, with the second division of the Bombay troops: the first division, under Lieutenant-colonel Murray, had arrived and disembarked since the 14th of May. * Some time between the 10th and 15th of June the two divisions set off upon their march across the desert, by the valley of Kuittah, and on the 30th arrived at Kéné, or Kenneh, on the banks of the Nile; but, owing to the difficulty of procuring boats to descend that river, Major-general Baird did not effect his junction with Lieutenant-general Hutchinson until several days after the surrender of Cairo. Lieutenant-colonel Lloyd had joined since the 11th or 12th; but his journey had been a most painful and distressing one, 23 of his detachment

* A contemporary has made a sad jumble of the proceedings of the British squadron in the Red Sea. According to Captain Brenton (vol. iii., p. 78), Rear-admiral Blankett died as soon as he was joined by Sir Home Popham, and Captain Surridge thereupon " left the direction of the naval forces under the able management " of the latter. So far from this having been the case, the Rear-admiral died on the 14th of July, when the Leopard and Romney, sailing in company, were about to cast anchor in Mocha road on their return to Bombay.

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