Section II expedition to Egypt

Napoleon launched an expedition to Egypt at the turn of spring and summer in 1798, which is the continuation of the anti French Alliance war on the African battlefield. Napoleon began to consider reshaping the rules of the distribution of interests in the colonial world, so he began to focus on North Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.


Egypt, which is close to the Mediterranean and the Red Sea, has an extremely important strategic position and has been coveted by many European countries for a long time. In France, in particular, the rulers have always regarded Egypt as the best place to threaten Britain, a competitor with commercial and political interests in India and Indonesia. Napoleon wanted to defeat Britain, but Britain’s navy was so powerful that France could not compete with it. Egypt became a bargaining chip for Napoleon to compete with Britain. He wanted to destroy Britain’s growing power in India by occupying Egypt, use Egypt as a stepping stone to move eastward, form an alliance with Turkey as he hoped, and then unite with tip Sudan in maiso (in southern India) to drive Britain out of India.


(1) Toulon assembly and to Egypt

Toulon assembly

on May 9, 1798, Napoleon arrived in Toulon from Paris to check the final preparations of 37000 officers and soldiers before boarding the ship. On the eve of boarding, he delivered a touching speech to the troops and promised to give them six acres of land each when they returned home. On May 19, the large fleet set sail from Toulon. It was composed of more than 300 transport ships, carrying 25000 infantry, 3000 cavalry, 3000 artillery and engineers. The secrecy of the expedition was well kept. Only a few senior officers knew that they were heading for Egypt. The news of their voyage reached Britain two weeks later, and even then, the prime minister thought the French army was going to land in Ireland. The Royal Navy is very vigilant. The Mediterranean fleet was blocking the Spanish port of Cadiz, where a Spanish naval squadron was moored. On May 2, he sent lieutenant general Nelson into the Mediterranean to explore and destroy the French fleet. Nelson’s fleet was finally composed of 14 battleships, two speedboats and a coastal gunship. If it could intercept Napoleon’s fleet, it would easily hit the French expeditionary force. Due to the influence of storm and headwind, Nelson didn’t reach Toulon until Napoleon had already driven away. Unfortunately, he was separated from his speedboat, which was not conducive to its search in the vast Mediterranean and trying to avoid its enemies. It was an incredible reckless adventure for Napoleon’s huge fleet to sail slowly to the high seas when the whereabouts of the British fleet were unknown. Although the gamble was successful, it was just a fluke.

(2) siege war

when the expedition fleet was approaching the coast of Egypt, Napoleon sent a fast sailing boat ahead to spy on Alexandria. The French consul told him that the city would resist the attack, that the Egyptian authorities would not allow any of his ships to enter the port, and that the fleet of the Royal Navy was cruising nearby. Napoleon decided to land immediately near malabout, a small fishing village. The village is eight miles west of Alexandria. Napoleon decided to advance immediately to Alexander, although he had only 4000 people ashore and no artillery. Without food and water, they marched painfully along the sand dunes and immediately attacked the town. As a result, they met only weak and sporadic resistance. At noon, the French army occupied Alexander at the cost of 300 casualties. Napoleon issued an unusual notice in Arabic to the local residents. He claimed that the French did not come to fight the Egyptians, but only against the Mamluk rulers who oppressed them. He also declared that the French were true Muslims and had already deposed the Pope who “often incited Christians to fight with Muslims”. Therefore, he asked all real Egyptians to help the French expel Mamluk.

(3) the battle of the pyramids

after the defeat of Mamluk’s cavalry in shublakit, the French army arrived at the fork of the Nile River only 12 miles away from Romania on the evening of July 20. Napoleon’s armed fleet on both sides of the Nile is still there. The French army began to advance at 2 a.m. on the 21st. At about 2 p.m., they met Mamluk, who was entrenched in imbabay. They had about 12000 infantry and 5000 cavalry on the wing. The five French divisions have a combat strength of 25000. The pyramids stand out from a distance. Napoleon put five divisions into five squares like in shublajit. Mamluk’s cavalry charged repeatedly with incredible bravery, but they were shot and killed by French shotguns and volleys. After two hours of fierce fighting, Mamluk lost seven or eight hundred people before he abandoned the array and fled. The troops on the left bank retreated to the upper reaches of the Nile through Cairo, and the troops on the right bank fled to the Sinai desert in the northeast. The French army also suffered three or four hundred casualties.

(4) invasion of Palestine

the defeat of the French army in the Gulf of Abu kil completely cut off the connection between Napoleon’s army and China, and soon Turkey declared war on France. Napoleon turned a blind eye to these dangers and continued to consolidate his power throughout Egypt. However, despite repeated defeats, Mamluk and his Arab allies usually managed to avoid decisive battles. In February 1799, Napoleon assembled an expedition composed of four divisions, planned to defeat the army led by the Turkish governor of Syria to invade Egypt, and then forced the Sudan to make peace and help him attack India. Napoleon set out from Cairo on February 10, but Napoleon did not expect the weather in the coastal areas of Palestine to be particularly cold and humid in February. As a result, the troops suffered a lot. In March 3rd, the French troops came to yah FA City, and the plague epidemic took place after the city was conquered. On March 17, Napoleon arrived in Haifa and set up a headquarters in Mount Carmel. Not far ahead is the fortress of the Turkish governor. As the siege gun was intercepted by the British navy, FranceThe fortress suffered no small losses. In April, a Turkish army sent by Pasha in Damascus will attack the French army besieging the city from the rear. Napoleon repulsed the reinforced Turks, but he was unable to win the fortress. On May 10, the last attack organized by Napoleon was also repulsed, and the army suffered heavy casualties. Napoleon finally decided to give up the siege, and the morale of the troops fell to almost mutiny during the retreat.

(5) secret return to France

at the end of August 1799, there was a news from France that the domestic situation was deteriorating rapidly and the French troops in Rhine and Italy were defeated by the Austrian and Russian troops; The whole country was in panic and chaos. “The motherland is in danger!” This is indeed a good excuse for Napoleon. He decided to return to France. On August 11, he went to Cairo for a week. On August 18, he took a group of carefully selected talents and quietly left Cairo at night. He claimed that he would go to upper Egypt for inspection, but he boarded a boat and went down the Nile River. He abandoned his troops. On the 22nd, he arrived in Alexandria. After dusk, he boarded a speedboat. The next morning, he set sail in the breeze of dawn. After 47 days of smooth sailing and successfully avoiding Nelson’s fleet, Napoleon landed in San Rafael on October 9.


Napoleon’s expeditionary army suffered an unprecedented failure under the double attack of Britain and the countries on the front line of North Africa Asia Minor, which stems from Napoleon’s wrong estimation of the war situation. When Napoleon returned to France, he moved the strategic core of the French Empire back to the European continent.

influence ` evaluation of

Napoleon forcibly opened the door of ancient Egypt with guns and guns, which brought war to the Egyptian people, but also brought the fire of the French Revolution to Egypt, making the closed Egypt impacted by modernization. As Egyptian historians have pointed out, Egypt experienced a long time under the feudal separatist regime. It was not until the French invasion in 1798 that a new page was opened in Egyptian history. Napoleon brought a large number of experts and scholars with the army and established the “Egyptian academy”. They made non negligible contributions to Egypt’s biology, medicine, mechanics, physics and archaeology, and compiled a great book “Egyptian Chronicles”.