Where were the British Forces located during Napoleon's Egypt Campaign?

Where were the British Forces located during Napoleon's Egypt Campaign?

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During Napoleon's Campaign in Egypt 1798-1803, the British destroyed the French fleet near the Abu-Qir bay and had a fleet blockade there. Where did the men on the British fleet get supply from in all this time?

Furthermore the British had not only naval combat with the French but also land battle. Already in the Siege of Acre in 1799, the British had land troops in the area. Where did they come from?

Later in the Egypt Campaign, the British were said to occupy Alexandria and Rosetta. How many region was under the British at that time? Note I use the word occupy because here it says

Murad had reportedly offered money to the French forces to leave Egypt and offered to ally himself with the British in exchange for allowing the British to occupy Alexandria, Damietta and Rosetta

Lastly the company SEGA (the inventor of the PC GAME Napoleon Total War) claim in their game that Cyprus was British in 1798 - is this true?

Following the Battle of the Nile (Aboukir Bay), the bulk of the British fleet, including Nelson's flagship Vanguard, returned to the western Mediterranean (either to Gibraltar or to Naples) in order to repair and refit. Only a small covering naval force under Sir Thomas Troubridge was left to blockade the French transports in Alexandria. This small flotilla was supplied from friendly Ottoman bases in Cyprus and Rhodes.

Troubridge was replaced by Sir Sidney Smith as, effectively, the naval commander in the region. It was under Smith that the British forces assisted at the Siege of Acre. The bulk of this assistance was in the form of gunfire support from HMS Tigre, HMS Theseus and some smaller gunboats. However, some marines and gunners from the two ships of the line were landed to fight from the city walls, with the Ottoman defenders. So there were no "land troops" as such, simply naval personel operating on land.

Additional info can be found in the answers to How did Napoleon evade the British fleet and return to France?

Wtih regard to the later campaign in Egypt, I think it's probably inaccurate to describe the British forces as occupying those cities. Since that implies that they had political control. They were allowed, by their Ottoman allies, to garrison forces there but they were not considered to be British territory.

Finally, Cyprus was under Ottoman control at the time. It only came under British control in 1878.

(And SEGA were the publishers of the game, it was invented by the Creative Assembly, a British software house)

It is important that even though Napoleon was beginning to have land superiority in Europe after the Revolutionary wars, the extent of Royal Navy's reach was far superior than that of French Navy. Specifically, Royal Navy had a Mediterranean Fleet, with a base in Gibraltar. That should more or less answer the first question.

As for the second question, it seems like (see this) the role of British forces in the Siege of Acre was providing cannon firepower from the Royal Navy ships HMS Tigre and Theseus, whereas the land army was Ottoman. British also trained some Turkish forces, but the infantry was mainly Turkish, and not British.

For the last question about British possession of Cyprus, it is not true. British took control of Cyrpus after Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. It was under Ottoman control before.

The French campaign in Egypt and Syria had ended by August of 1801, with their defeat and surrender at Alexandria. Napoleon had abandoned them two years previous, when he returned to France, and reorganized the government in a coup against the Directorate.

Where did the British troops used against the French in Egypt and Syria come from? In the earlier events they were marines and crew of the British fleet, which had total control of the Mediterranean following their destruction of Napoleon's fleet at Aboukir bay, the Battle of the Nile. Battle of the Nile, Thomas Luny

Note that the Ottoman Empire was also at war with France, and there were many forces at work here. The use of the British sailors and marines, landed from the fleet, was very common when the British fleet had local control of the seaways.

By 1801, the British fleet had transported an expeditionary force to Egypt, beginning the the Battle of Abukir (March 1801), the defeat of the French forces at the Battle of Alexandria, and finally the Siege of Alexandria, which ended with the surrender of the French forces.

Where were the British Forces located during Napoleon's Egypt Campaign? - History

The British Army in the Napoleonic Wars: Manpower Stretched to the Limits?

The British Army during the Napoleonic Wars served throughout the world, in either the far-flung outposts of the Empire or in ill planned expeditionary forces that participated in campaigns in: Egypt in 1801 India in 1803, Germany in 1805 Argentina, India, and Italy in 1806 Denmark and Egypt in 1807 Holland and the West Indies in 1809 the Mediterranean Sea, the Indian Ocean, and Indonesia in 1810 North America in 1812 - 1815 Germany and the Low Countries in 1813 - 1814. On 25 August 1813 the British Army was deployed in the following overseas locations:

Leeward and Windward Islands

Sicily, Mediterranean and Ionian Islands

The numerous campaigns fought outside of Spain and Portugal are often overshadowed by the British effort in the Iberian Peninsula (1808 - 1814) and the Waterloo Campaign of 1815. Yet the impact of these "minor" campaigns and garrisons can not be ignored, for they diverted much needed troops from the main theater of the war for the British: the Iberian Peninsula. In 1809, there were more British troops participating in the ill-fated Walcheren Campaign in Holland, than Wellington had serving with him in the Peninsula. By 1813, even after his numerous successes in the Peninsula, Wellington never had more than 20% of the British Army available to him.

Year British Troops Foreign and Colonial Troops Total 1804 133,554 17,039 150,593 1805 139,581 22,375 161,956 1806 159,076 26,043 185,119 1807 163,641 35,816 199,457 1808 189,210 37,217 226,427 1809 197,230 36,947 234,177 1810 199,062 38,390 237,452 1811 194,051 40,543 234,594 1812 198,004 45,881 243,885 1813 203,119 52,757 255,876 Note: The foreign and colonial troops included such forces as the King's German Legion, De Watteville's Regiment, the Chasseur Britanniques, and the Royal Regiment of Malta.

British casualties in all the campaigns were beginning to take their toll. Their casualties were small when compared to French and Russian casualties in 1812, but the British relied on volunteers to fill their ranks. There was no conscription in the British Isles. In 1811, the British Army only recruited 26,000 men to replaced the 23,000 casualties they had the previous year, plus as replacements for ALL of the regiments on active duty, not just those serving in Spain and Portugal. When the number of men who were released from active duty because enlistments were expired are factored into the equation, there was an actual drop in overall numbers. Although this negative trend stopped the following year, the situation did not improve dramatically. The British were forced to recruit more and more foreigners to fill their ranks. In 1813 the number of foreigners comprised 21% of soldiers in the British Army, as compared to 11% in 1804. By 1813, volunteers were becoming so difficult to find for some British Regiments, Wellington was forced to combine several severely depleted regiments and to recruit Spaniards into others.

Although British casualties were not catastrophic, combined with the numerous global commitments and poorly planned and executed expeditions, the pool of available manpower was stretched to the limits. By early 1815, the British Army of Peninsula War fame had been widely dispersed, with many of the units serving in North America. When Napoleon escaped from Elba, the British were so hard pressed to field an army in 1815, they asked the Portuguese to provide some of their regiments to serve with Wellington in Belgium! If the Napoleonic Wars had continued for a few more years, two things would probably have occurred: the British would have had to cut back on their overseas deployments or begun some form of conscription.


Fortescue, John W. The County Lieutenancies and the Army: 1803 - 1814 London : MacMillan 1909.

Fortescue, John W. History of the British Army Vol. VII London : MacMillan and Co. 1913.

Hall, Christopher. British Strategy in the Napoleonic War 1803 - 1815 Manchester : Manchester University Press 1992.

Haythornthwaite, Philip. The Napoleonic Source Book New York : Facts on File 1990.

Oman, Charles. A History of the Peninsular War Vol. II Oxford : AMS 1980.

Smith, Digby. The Greenhill Napoleonic Wars Data Book London : Greenhill Press 1998.

The existing ruling powers

To do this Napoleon had to enlist the help of the ruling elite of Sheikhs, and to encourage them to take positions of power, in order to bring the rest of Egypt with them. As with the sheikhs, Napoleon had also to impress the Copts. The Copts, Christians in the heart of a Moslem society personified the permanent structures of Egyptian bureaucracy. They were the scribes of Ancient Egypt, and in 19th century Egypt they were the accountants. Whether caliph or provincial governor, Emir, Mamluk or Turkish Pasha, no-one could get by without their assistance.

The State of the Navy

One of the reasons for not invading Britain was also an argument against invading her colonies. It was the state of the French Navy.

While an invasion of Britain was being considered, Napoleon took a tour of French ports, surveying the shipping and supplies available for war at sea. What he saw convinced him the French Army could not be safely escorted across the Channel. The French Navy was in a sorry state, while the British Navy was the envy of the world.

Invading the British colonies was one of the options Napoleon offered to the Directorate government. It must have seemed a dubious prospect at best. Colonial wars relied upon fleets for transport and supplies. It was too risky a prospect.

Napoleon in Cairo, by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 19th century, Princeton University Art Museum.

Where were the British Forces located during Napoleon's Egypt Campaign? - History

The Napoleonic Invasion of Egypt
(Click on the images to enlarge)

On July 1, 1798, Napoleon landed in Egypt with 400 ships and 54,000 men and proceeded to invade the country, as he had recently invaded Italy. But this Egyptian invasion was to be different. For, in addition to soldiers and sailors, Napoleon brought along 150 savants — scientists, engineers and scholars whose responsibility was to capture, not Egyptian soil, but Egyptian culture and history. And while the military invasion was an ultimate failure, the scholarly one was successful beyond anyone’s expectations.

Meticulous topographical surveys were made, native animals and plants were studied, minerals were collected and classified, local trades and industry were scrutinized. Most famously, ancient Egypt was discovered — the temples and tombs of Luxor, Philae, Dendera, and the Valley of the Kings. Each of these sites was measured, mapped, and drawn, recording in meticulous detail a pharaonic Egypt never before glimpsed by the outside world.

But how was the outside world to see what the scientists had discovered? Fortunately, the savants decided, before they had been in Egypt for even six months, that their discoveries had to be published, and they collected and sketched with that aim in mind. After their return to France in 1801, they continued to organize materials, and finally, in 1809, the first volumes of the Description de l'Égypte were published. Over the years, concluding in 1828, a total of 23 volumes would appear. Three of these were the largest books that had ever been printed, standing over 43 inches tall. The total set contained 837 engravings, many of them of unprecedented size, which captured Egyptian culture from every possible vantage point.

The most impressive were surely the volumes of antiquities, spilling over with obelisks, colossi, temples, sphinxes, and all manner of artifacts. But the volumes on natural history were also impressive, with their crocodiles, asps, lotuses, and palms. Never before had a single country inspired such a monumental encyclopedia of such depth and splendor.

The Lives of Napoleon

The erstwhile emperor continues to attract biographers and readers alike. Laura O’Brien assesses recent work on his life and legacy.

Two hundred years after his death, what more is there to say about Napoleon Bonaparte? He remains a perennially popular subject for works of history aimed at the general reader, whether conventional biographies or more specialised studies on aspects of his life, regime and cultural legacy. If, as the Napoleonic historian Philip Dwyer suggests, writing a biography is like holding up a mirror for a contemporary readership, who is the Napoleon that is reflected back at us in 2021?

The work of Napoleonic biographers has been made somewhat easier in the past two decades thanks to the publication, with the support of the Fondation Napoléon, of 15 volumes of Napoleon’s correspondence (the final volume appeared in 2018). This material underpins many of the biographies published in recent years. Chief among these are the multi-volume works by Philip Dwyer, whose final volume in his trilogy, Napoleon: Passion, Death and Resurrection 1815-1840 (Bloomsbury), was published in 2018, and Michael Broers, whose Napoleon: Spirit of the Age: 1805-1810 (Pegasus) appeared in the same year. This, the second in Broers’ three-part biography, covers only five years of Napoleon’s life. But, Broers argues, they mark the zenith of his career, particularly as a military leader. This period saw transformations in his private life, too, as he divorced Joséphine and married Marie-Louise, daughter of the Emperor of Austria, in a bid to secure his dynasty.

Eagle-eyed readers will notice that the chronological span of Philip Dwyer’s Napoleon continues for almost 20 years after the death of his central subject on Saint Helena. This reflects Dwyer’s interest in Napoleon’s afterlife and the emerging legend, which Bonaparte shaped during his final exile. With nothing better to do, the fallen emperor spoke at length to his companions about his life. In 1823 Emmanuel de Las Cases published the Memorial of Saint Helena, based on his conversations with Napoleon. The rediscovery of the original manuscript and the publication of a new version of the Memorial in 2017 has revealed just how much of the legend was based not on Napoleon’s own words, but on Las Cases’ embellishments. No matter: as Dwyer shows, the Memorial became the foundation text for the 19th-century Napoleonic legend and for political Bonapartism. As the debate around the bicentenary of Napoleon’s death rages in the present, Dwyer also offers salient reminders of the political uses of his memory in the past above all, the decision by King Louis-Philippe to repatriate Napoleon’s remains to France amid great pomp and ceremony in 1840.

The desire to discover the ‘real’ Napoleon that drove sales of the Memorial of Saint Helena in the 1820s continues to underpin contemporary work on him. Adam Zamoyski’s 2018 biography Napoleon: A Life (William Collins) sets out to uncover, as the book’s subtitle states, ‘the man behind the myth’. The nature of that myth varies, depending on your national or cultural context. In Britain, for example, despite a persistent interest in him, Napoleon tends to be presented, in Zamoyski’s words, as an ‘evil monster or just a nasty little dictator’. Tim Clayton’s This Dark Business: The Secret War Against Napoleon (Little, Brown, 2018) turns this vision on its head, arguing that the popular British image of a diminutive, evil ‘Boney’ was to a large extent the product of a government-funded army of propagandists and cartoonists, who worked to ‘invent an evil enemy’ for the British public from the very beginning of Napoleon’s rise to power. This ‘secret war’, which included British-funded conspiracies in France and assassination attempts on Napoleon’s life, began even before the most notorious acts of his career, such as the massacre of prisoners during the Egyptian campaign and the brutal violence meted out in the Caribbean, culminating in the reimposition of slavery in French territories in 1802. Clayton’s book shows that these attacks on Napoleon, both physical and symbolic, marked a new departure in Anglo-French relations because they were so personal. Accounts of Napoleon’s childhood claimed that, as a schoolboy, he had killed a dog and nailed it to his door, and that he had poisoned his lover. Here was a man with ‘a heart black with crimes of the deepest dye’, in the words of the Anti-Jacobin Review.

Portrait of Napoleon Bonaparte, by Job (Jacques Onfroy de Bréville), 1893 © Bridgeman Images.

In The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon on Elba from Exile to Escape (Profile, 2018), Mark Braude shows how even while rendered ‘invisible’ in his new, tiny dominion, Bonaparte remained a figure of fascination for locals and visitors alike. He even became a kind of tourist attraction, with people travelling from around Europe (and Britain, too) in a bid to catch a glimpse of or even to meet the ‘Corsican ogre’. Some were invited in by Napoleon: the British politician John Macnamara, visiting Elba out of curiosity, had a long conversation with him, during which he could not stop rubbing his eyes in amazement. Napoleon’s time on Elba allows Braude to approach his subject with what he describes as ‘unprecedented intimacy’. Even as he plots his return to France, the Napoleon who emerges in this book is human: as communications broke down with Marie-Louise, he found solace in singing Corsican songs to himself, by candlelight, in the early hours of the morning.

On Elba, Napoleon returned to an early passion established in his formative years as a pupil at the military academy of Brienne: gardening. With his gardener Claude Hollard, the deposed emperor laid out new gardens at his two residences on the island, planting citrus trees and Mediterranean flowers. Hollard even created themed floral displays to spell out the names of Napoleon’s family members. In her new biography, Napoleon: A Life in Gardens and Shadows (Chatto & Windus, 2021), Ruth Scurr uses the garden as a unique framing device to approach and understand Bonaparte’s life. Beginning with the lonely Corsican boy cultivating a tiny plot at Brienne and moving through ever-grander gardens and green spaces at Malmaison, Fontainebleau and Saint-Cloud, the book argues for the centrality of nature in Napoleon’s life, culminating in a final garden on Saint Helena. Indeed, Scurr’s book might alternatively have been titled Napoleon and the Natural World. Fascinated by botany, geography and exploration from a young age, Napoleon developed close connections with the botanists and naturalists at the Jardin des Plantes and Museum of Natural History in Paris. In 1800, as First Consul, he authorised a French scientific expedition to Australia. The scientists claimed the areas they explored as Terre Napoléon. The gardens of his life were often the gardens of others, too, particularly Joséphine, who cultivated rare plants at Malmaison. Her gardens, Scurr argues, were ‘her antidote to the Terror’ and a way of ‘healing political trauma through … the natural world’.

Scurr came to the subject of Napoleon via Charlotte Brontë. In 1843, holding a fragment of his original coffin, Brontë mused that ‘we all have only the idea of Napoleon we are capable of having’. Exploring that idea and its impact on his contemporaries and the generations that followed may be arguably more interesting than repeatedly revisiting well-established biographical details. In Men on Horseback: The Power of Charisma in the Age of Revolution (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2020) David A. Bell reassesses Napoleon – as a ruler and as an idea – through the lens of charismatic leadership. In one sense, this is ‘great man’ history, but Bell examines his case studies not as lone geniuses, but as manifestations of the same phenomenon over the course of the global ‘age of revolutions’. These men were very different, as Bell shows, moving from Napoleon to Toussaint Louverture, whose career he describes as ‘the most astonishing of the age of revolution’. But their models of leadership were intrinsically connected, as ‘each figure in turn provided a model for the others’. Without charisma, Bell argues, we cannot understand the rise of democracy in this period. Leaders like Napoleon, Louverture, Washington, Bolivár and the Corsican leader Paoli redrew the nature of political authority. Through a careful balance of familiarity, intimacy and heroic exceptionalism – cultivated and marketed through newspapers, pamphlets and, above all, visual depictions of the leader – the relationship was no longer one of monarch and subject, but something much closer to a kind of fandom.

At the end of his biography, Dwyer reflects that Napoleon remains fascinating because he embodies the ambitions of the ‘modern western individual … he conquered … he acquired lasting power … he unashamedly pursued lasting fame’. The continued proliferation of books on Napoleon is testament to the potency of his story. But we must ask hard questions about who gets to contribute to the conversation. Despite the work of female scholars, Napoleonic history, particularly when it comes to trade books, remains a rather male and overwhelmingly white field. If Ruth Scurr’s claim that ‘there is always something new to say’ is to truly resonate in the 21st century, a greater diversity of voices are needed to tell the story.

Laura O’Brien is Senior Lecturer in Modern European History at Northumbria University.

Is History Coming for Sisi’s Regime?

Even with a cane, Egyptian human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, 82, walks with severe difficulty, a problem that began during his several years in prison in the early 2000s. Ibrahim is the grand old man of democracy and human rights in Egypt: a prolific author and long-time professor at the American University in Cairo, and a famous dissident intellectual against the stagnation and brutality of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime that ended in 2011.

Meeting Ibrahim and listening to him talk about his country with piercing insight for several hours recalled my frequent talks in the 1980s with the great anti-communist dissident Milovan Djilas, who, witnessing the rot inside the oppressive and calcifying Yugoslav system, had predicted the collapse of his own country years in advance of it happening. Indeed, though Ibrahim was careful to talk strictly about the past, his words carry a warning about Egypt’s future.

Even with a cane, Egyptian human rights activist Saad Eddin Ibrahim, 82, walks with severe difficulty, a problem that began during his several years in prison in the early 2000s. Ibrahim is the grand old man of democracy and human rights in Egypt: a prolific author and long-time professor at the American University in Cairo, and a famous dissident intellectual against the stagnation and brutality of Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year regime that ended in 2011.

Meeting Ibrahim and listening to him talk about his country with piercing insight for several hours recalled my frequent talks in the 1980s with the great anti-communist dissident Milovan Djilas, who, witnessing the rot inside the oppressive and calcifying Yugoslav system, had predicted the collapse of his own country years in advance of it happening. Indeed, though Ibrahim was careful to talk strictly about the past, his words carry a warning about Egypt’s future.

Mubarak himself orchestrated Ibrahim’s imprisonment and exile as well as the frivolous court cases and smear campaign against him. Mubarak’s hatred of Ibrahim was personal, since Ibrahim had once been a friend of the Egyptian leader’s family and had taught Mubarak’s wife, Suzanne, and his son Gamal at the American University in Cairo. To Mubarak, Ibrahim had betrayed the family. “That stupid man,” Mubarak reportedly said in reference to Ibrahim’s persecution. “He could have had anything he wanted.” That is, if Ibrahim had only been loyal. It was the same situation with Djilas, who had been Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito’s World War II comrade-in-arms and postwar heir apparent yet broke with his boss over moral and political issues. Tito, a brilliant communist leader, at least understood Djilas’s decision as an ideological disagreement even as he imprisoned and otherwise tried to crush him for it. But Mubarak, a dull and narrow caretaker of a ruler, had no understanding for why Ibrahim wanted to give up his position and comfortable life situation merely for the sake of principles. And it wasn’t as if Ibrahim in the early 2000s was advocating for Mubarak’s overthrow. Back then, Ibrahim only wanted Egypt to liberalize and become a place of enlightened authoritarianism, such as Oman.

What specifically got Ibrahim in trouble was an essay he published in Arabic in a Saudi weekly in the middle of 2000, in which he speculated that Mubarak was quietly grooming Gamal to succeed him. Syrian dictator Hafez al-Assad had died only three weeks earlier and had been succeeded by his son Bashar. In a way, like Syria, Ibrahim argued, Egypt would become half a republic (“gumhuriyya”) and half a monarchy (“almalakiyya”), that is, in an Arabic word Ibrahim coined, a “gumlukiyya.” The regime quickly dispatched Ibrahim to prison.

Two decades on, Ibrahim coolly assessed Mubarak’s rule for me—with great implications for Egypt’s current military ruler, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. “Mubarak did a great service to the country during his first decade in power. He calmed a nation that was on the brink of conflict after [Anwar] Sadat’s assassination and got the economy back on track. His second 10 years there were lots of promises but no delivery, and his last 10 years were a disaster, when Egyptians became humiliated on account of economic and political stagnation.”

It is a typical story. A dictator at first contemplates liberal change. In the early period of his rule, Mubarak had even dispatched Ibrahim to Mexico to study how that country was transitioning to democracy. But as a dictator realizes just how much risk such liberalization entails, he retreats back into his authoritarian shell. Then, as he ages, it dawns on him there is no trustworthy mechanism for succession—one that would protect his family and the wealth it had acquired—so he decides eventually on a pseudo-monarchy. “Any president of Egypt does well at the beginning. But given enough time, no ruler does well,” Ibrahim said.

The Arab Spring that eventually toppled Mubarak would itself prove to be a disappointment—a betrayal even. Ibrahim explained it is actually quite common for revolutions to be hijacked. The Russian Revolution was hijacked by the Bolsheviks and the Iranian Revolution by the Islamic clergy. The French Revolution had its Reign of Terror and military rule by Napoleon Bonaparte. The American Revolution was really an evolution that owed much to British constitutional practices of the century before thus, it was spared this fate. So it did not come as a great surprise to Ibrahim that the Arab Spring in Egypt would be hijacked too.

The Arab Spring brought Ibrahim back to Egypt from exile in the United States. But as he surveyed Tahrir Square in person, he became worried. “There were no leaders, no platform. Enthusiasm is no substitute for rule,” he said. Hence, Ibrahim wrote a column about the danger of the revolution being hijacked. A decade after the Arab Spring, with the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood followed by that of Sisi, Ibrahim said: “The Muslim Brotherhood never dissolves. It is always in reserve, a civilian army with the same disciplined hierarchy as the military. But what keeps the military in power now is not only the memory of Muslim Brotherhood rule but the memory of the anarchy that accompanied it.”

Indeed, while the world’s media projected the Arab Spring as a pageant of democratic yearning playing out in Tahrir Square, many Egyptians remember the chaos, the looting, the sound of gunshots at night, homes vandalized by mobs, and the gangs of young men in the streets and at the airport. The middle class especially feared for its well-being. It’s these memories that still form the bedrock of popular support for the Sisi regime.

But what about Sisi’s prospects going forward?

Ibrahim and others suggested a leader’s claim to legitimacy, particularly in the wake of a revolution, is sheer ambition: ambition to build and develop his country. That was then-Egyptian leader Mohammed Ali’s claim to legitimacy following Napoleon’s departure from Egypt. It was then-Egyptian leader Khedive Ismail Pasha’s claim in the second half of the 19th century. Both had been great builders, laying the foundation for modern Cairo. And it has been Sisi’s ambition in the wake of the failed Arab Spring.

Sisi is actually the opposite of Mubarak. Rather than a leader with a caretaker mentality, he is a hard-working man in a hurry. He knows the street toppled both Mubarak in 2011 and Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi in 2013. Sisi is determined this won’t happen to him. Thus, he has become a modernizer somewhat in the mold of the late 20th century, enlightened authoritarian-style rulers like Park Chung-hee in South Korea, Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore, and Mahathir bin Mohamad in Malaysia. He is using the digitalization of record-keeping to get Egypt’s rich to pay more taxes. He has been building a grandiose new capital and satellite cities in the desert with China’s help. There are literally hundreds of new projects, such as fisheries, wastewater management, and slum eradication, he has initiated with aid from Japan and Europe.

Yet, Egypt’s economy is still dominated by a steeply hierarchical and inflexible military at a time when flattened hierarchies are best positioned to take advantage of the digital age’s complexities. The establishment media is reportedly under the control of intelligence services. Sisi’s record on human rights is simply atrocious with many activists in jail and reports of disappearances and widespread torture. And because no criticism is allowed from outside the regime, Sisi’s rule threatens to be undermined by a climate of insufficient critical thinking. In fact, it was the very absence of debate under former Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s hard, ideological regime that was a factor in Egypt’s military disasters in Yemen in the 1960s and against Israel in 1967.

Sisi’s first decade has been full of promise—as was Mubarak’s. The Washington cliché that Egypt is an autocracy of fading relevance and going nowhere is just plain wrong. Egypt’s security relationship with Israel is extremely active and intense. The regime’s treatment of the minority Coptic Christian community is better than at any point since before the 1952 Free Officers coup. But as Ibrahim’s analysis shows, Sisi may become prone to the same forces of decline as his military predecessors in power. Sheer energy and Asian role models will not be enough. Ibrahim’s life message—the same as Djilas’s—is that without a vital dose of freedom and human rights, true modernity does not happen. That was Nasser’s and Mubarak’s tragedy. Can Sisi break the cycle?

‘Perfidious Albion’: Napoléon and his British nemesis

Napoléon Bonaparte’s Anglophobia stretched back to his days as an obscure young Corsican at French military academies. After his stupendous rise to emperor, it was the British who smashed his navy at Trafalgar and exiled him to St Helena following the Duke of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo. FRANCE 24 looks back on Napoléon’s antagonism against the country he cast as “perfidious Albion”.

Napoléon Bonaparte’s French Empire was crumbling in 1813 after his disastrous invasion of Russia. The Sixth Coalition – of Britain, Russia, Prussia, Austria, Sweden, Spain and Portugal – was ranged against him. He ordered the French people to refer to Britain as “perfidious Albion”, making this ancient insult common currency.

The first major British victory against Napoléon’s forces came when the Royal Navy under the iconic Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson sank the French fleet at the 1798 Battle of the Nile – trapping Bonaparte’s expeditionary force in Egypt.

Nelson capitalised on the Royal Navy’s dominance of the Mediterranean with his spectacular victory in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar off the southwestern coast of Napoléon’s then ally Spain. Nelson was fatally wounded by a French musket shot as 27 British ships took on 33 French and Spanish ships. The Royal Navy lost none of its fleet 22 Franco-Spanish ships were destroyed. Nelson’s victory ensured that Napoléon was unable to mount an invasion across the English Channel.

After invading Portugal in 1807, Napoléon turned against his Spanish ally the following year – forcing King Ferdinand VII to abdicate and installing his brother Joseph Bonaparte in his place. Britain intervened, safeguarding Portugal from Napoleonic forces and using it as a platform to aid the Spanish in guerrilla attacks on his army.

The decisive win in this Peninsular War came when the British commander, then Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley, Marquess of Wellington led British, Spanish and Portuguese troops to victory in the 1813 Battle of Vitoria.

The Sixth Coalition invaded France and forced Napoléon to abdicate in 1814. Wellington was elevated to Duke in honour of his victorious Peninsular campaign. The following year Bonaparte escaped from his Elba exile, swept into France and went back on the offensive. The Duke of Wellington and Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher stopped him at Waterloo – “the nearest-run thing you ever saw in your life”, as the Duke famously described it – and the British consigned the diminutive titan to their isolated south Atlantic outpost St Helena.

Ahead of the 200th anniversary of his death on May 5, FRANCE 24 discussed Napoléon’s enmity and defeats against Britain with historian Andrew Roberts, author of the acclaimed biography Napoleon the Great.

The historian J.E. Cookson has described the change from fighting revolutionary France to fighting Napoleon as one in which “a police action against a revolutionary regime had become a war of national survival”. How did this process unfold for Britain?

That quote is an excellent summation of the problem that Britain faced after the Brumaire coup of 1799, because from having a rather moribund government with a brilliant general in Napoléon Bonaparte, suddenly you had an extraordinarily energetic French government under that same general – who really changed everything when he became First Consul that year.

It put the British government in a much more difficult position that it was in hitherto, when it just thought it could keep the Revolutionary Wars like the proverbial one between the whale and the wolf, where the whale – the Royal Navy – couldn’t really damage France, but the wolf in control of the land – France – couldn’t really damage Britain either. But suddenly you had the real danger – certainly from 1802 to 1805 – of a French invasion. Napoléon only needed to have one day of good weather and a bit of luck in the English Channel, and had he landed any kind of extensive army in Kent or Sussex, he’d have been in London within a week.

What explains Britain’s military success – especially that of the Royal Navy – against the indubitable military genius Bonaparte?

It was really down to training. The Royal Navy had to stay at sea for 90 percent of the time when it was blockading Toulon and Brest and various other French ports [and Spanish ports when the Spanish went into the war on Napoléon’s side in 1805]. So you had these ships in Nelson’s navy that were at sea pretty much all the time.

They also had more gunpowder and more shot. After having spent so long at sea blockading France, the Royal Navy’s training meant that it could fire broadsides twice as fast as the French navy. That’s the real explanation for why you don’t get any significant French naval victories in the Revolutionary or Napoleonic Wars.

And for all his genius in so many areas, Napoléon had a lacuna when it came to sea fighting. He didn’t really understand the difference between leeward and windward – and though he was born on an island, Corsica, he didn’t really recognise that you couldn’t just assume that a larger number of ships in a fleet engagement was going to win. He wasn’t close to admirals in the same way that he was to his marshals with whom he went on campaign.

What kind of tactics did the likes of Nelson and Wellington use to defeat Napoleon?

When he was fighting both in the Peninsula and Waterloo, Wellington was fighting coalition warfare – and that was tremendously important and played to his strengths. He was fluent in French he admired the Portuguese and the Spanish, especially their regular forces. He had a natural affinity as a coalition fighter. The Napoleonic Wars could not have been won – rather like the Second World War – without the invasion of Russia going very badly. But where Britain was able to add value was these attacks on the periphery – that’s what we were very good at.

One important area – and this started very badly in the Napoleonic Wars, but they got much better at it – was the co-operation between the army and the navy. You also find that there was a great overhaul in 1808-09 by Prince Frederick, Duke of York, who is in many ways under-appreciated by history. Although he wasn’t a very good general – he was of course the grand old Duke of York who had 10,000 men – he was an extremely able administrator. The army he put in the Peninsula was updated it had an element of meritocracy to it it was paid regularly and so on. And the Duke of York requires a real pat on the back for everything he learned during the Napoleonic Wars.

With regard to Nelson, the strategy he used at Trafalgar was rather like the one used by Admiral Sir George Rodney at the Battle of the Saintes [a major British naval victory over the French in the Caribbean in 1782 during the American War of Independence] where you split your forces into two and attack your enemy at right-angles.

The wonderful thing about Nelson was that he was always on the offensive. He understood that being on the offensive was a huge advantage in and of itself in the age of fighting sail. And if you look at what he did at the Nile where he managed to get his forces on both sides of the French fleet at Aboukir Bay – before fighting a different kind of action at Copenhagen [an 1801 British victory against the Danish fleet] – he was able to mould his strategy according to the wind direction in a completely brilliant way.

What both Nelson and Wellington did was to use the circumstances to their advantage.

For Napoléon, Britain was famously “perfidious Albion” and a “nation of shopkeepers”. As you noted in Napoleon the Great, this animus against the British was already evident in Bonaparte’s youth — what accounts for it?

When he went to Angers and Brienne as a military academician, he was taught by people whose major formative influence was the Seven Years War. And of course the French had been absolutely trounced by the British in the Seven Years War. So he grew up very much in an atmosphere of Anglophobia.

Although it’s well worth pointing out that when he met individual English people, certainly when he was at Elba, in campaigns, in the run-up to the Battle of Waterloo, he got on well with them.

He met well over a dozen English people. He was very friendly with Lord John Russell [subsequently a Liberal prime minister, who as a young man visited Napoléon] when he was at Elba [prominent Whig politician and fan of the French Revolution] Charles James Fox was another example.

Napoléon liked English people when he met them he just obviously didn’t when he thought of them en masse.

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The French commander, Vice Admiral François-Paul Brueys D’Aigalliers, anticipating a British attack, had anchored his thirteen ships of the line in line of battle with shallow, shoal water to port and the open sea to starboard. This deployment was intended to force the British to attack the strong French center and rear while permitting Brueys' van to utilize the prevailing northeasterly winds to mount a counterattack once the action commenced. With sunset fast approaching, Brueys did not believe the British would risk a night battle in unknown, shallow waters. As a further precaution, he ordered that the ships of the fleet be chained together to prevent the British from breaking the line.

Dorsetshire Regiment during WW1

Since 1815 the balance of power in Europe had been maintained by a series of treaties. In 1888 Wilhelm II was crowned ‘German Emperor and King of Prussia’ and moved from a policy of maintaining the status quo to a more aggressive position. He did not renew a treaty with Russia, aligned Germany with the declining Austro-Hungarian Empire and started to build a Navy to rival that of Britain. These actions greatly concerned Germany’s neighbours, who quickly forged new treaties and alliances in the event of war. On 28th June 1914 Franz Ferdinand the heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne was assassinated by the Bosnian-Serb nationalist group Young Bosnia who wanted pan-Serbian independence. Franz Joseph the Austro-Hungarian Emperor (with the backing of Germany) responded aggressively, presenting Serbia with an intentionally unacceptable ultimatum, to provoke Serbia into war. Serbia agreed to 8 of the 10 terms and on the 28th July 1914 the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia, producing a cascade effect across Europe. Russia bound by treaty to Serbia declared war with Austro-Hungary, Germany declared war with Russia and France declared war with Germany. Germany’s army crossed into neutral Belgium in order to reach Paris, forcing Britain to declare war with Germany (due to the Treaty of London (1839) whereby Britain agreed to defend Belgium in the event of invasion). By the 4th August 1914 Britain and much of Europe were pulled into a war which would last 1,566 days, cost 8,528,831 lives and 28,938,073 casualties or missing on both sides.

The regiment raised a total of 12 Battalions and received 57 Battle Honours losing 4,060 men during the course of the war.

1st Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Belfast as part of the 15th Brigade of the 5th Division.
16.08.1914 Mobilised for war and landed at Havre and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including
The Battle of Mons and subsequent retreat, The Battle of Le Cateau and the Affair of Crepy-en-Valois, The Battle of the Marne, The Battle of the Aisne, The Battles of La Bassee and Messines 1914, The First Battle of Ypres.
The Second Battle of Ypres and the Capture of Hill 60.
31.12.1915 Transferred to the 95th Brigade of the 32nd Division.
07.01.1916 The 95th Brigade became the 14th of the same Division
The Battle of Delville Wood, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette.
The German retreat to the Hindenburg Line, The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Third Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of Langemark, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of the Avre, The Battle of Ypres 1918 and the final advance in Flanders.
11.11.1918 Ended the war in Flaumont east of Avesnes, France.

2nd Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Poona, India as part of the 16th Brigade of the Poona Division.
06.11.1914 Deployed to the Persian Gulf and landed at Fao.
29.04.1916 350 men captured at Kut al Amara by the Turkish Army (only 70 survived their captivity).
04.02.1916 Composite Battalion was formed at El Orah, Tigris while battalion was besieged, from drafts and recovered wounded of the 2nd Norfolk and 2nd Dorset battalions, nicknamed the Norsets and was part of the 21st Brigade of the 7th Indian Division.
21.07.1916 The Composite Battalion was broken up and the 2nd Battalion reconstituted to become the Corps Troops of the Tigris Corps.
Sept 1916 Deployed on the Tigris Defences.
Jan1917 Transferred to the 9th Brigade of the 3rd Indian Division.
April 1918 Deployed to Egypt landing at Suez
31.10.1918 Ended the war at Zawata S.W. of Nazareth, Palestine.

3rd (Reserve) Battalion
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dorchester and then moved to Weymouth.
June 1915 Moved to Wyke Regis, Dorset.

1/4th Battalion Territorial Force
04.08.1914 Stationed at Dorchester as part of the South Western Brigade of the Wessex Division and then moved to Salisbury Plain.
09.10.1914 Embarked for India at Southampton landing at Bombay and then the Division broken up.
18.02.1916 Embarked for Basra from Karachi.
23.02.1916 Transferred to the 42nd Brigade.
May 1916 The 42nd transferred to the 15th Indian Division and engaged in various actions including
Action of As Sahilan.
Capture of Ramadi.
Occupation of Hit and Action of Khan Baghdadi.
31.10.1918 Ended the war near Khan Baghdadi on Euphrates N.W. of Baghdad, Mesopotamia.

2/4th Battalion Territorial Force
Sept 1914 Formed and then moved to Salisbury Plain as part of the 2/South Western Brigade of the 2/Wessex Division.
Oct 1914 Moved to Dorchester.
12.12.1914 Embarked for India from Southampton arriving at Bombay and the Division was broken up.
15.08.1917 Embarked for Egypt from Bombay arriving at Suez.
29.08.1917 Transferred to the 234th Brigade of the 75th Division and engaged in various actions as Part of the Palestine Campaign including
The Third Battle of Gaza, The Capture of Gaza, The Capture of Junction Station, The Battle of Nabi Samweil.
02.05.1918 Transferred to the 233rd Brigade of the 75th Division.
Aug 1918 Disbanded in Palestine.

3/4th Battalion Territorial Forces
1915 Formed in Bath and Cheddar and then moved to Bournemouth.
Spring 1916 Moved to Romsey, Hampshire.
08.04.1916 became the 4th Reserve Battalion as part of the Wessex Reserve.
Oct 1916 Moved to Bournemouth.
Feb 1917 Moved to Sutton Veny, and then Larkhill, Wiltshire.
April 1918 Deployed to Ireland stationed at Londonderry.

5th (Service) Battalion
Aug 1914 Formed at Dorchester as part of the First New Army (K1) and then moved to Belton Park, Grantham and attached to the 11th Division.
18.01.1915 Joined the 34th brigade of the 11th Division.
03.07.1915 Embarked for Gallipoli from Liverpool via Mudros and Imbros.
06.08.1915 Landed at Suvla Bay and engaged in various actions against the Turkish Army including
The Battle of Sari Bair.
16.12.1915 Evacuated from Gallipoli to Mudros and Imbros due to severe casualties from combat, disease and harsh weather.
01.02.1916 Deployed to Alexandria and took over a section of the Suez Canal defences.
03.07.1916 Embarked for France from Alexandria arriving at Marseilles and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including
The capture of the Wundt-Werk, The Battle of Flers-Courcelette, The Battle of Thiepval.
Operations on the Ancre, The Battle of Messines, The Battle of the Langemarck, The Battle of Polygon Wood, The Battle of Broodseinde, The Battle of Poelcapelle.
The Battle of the Scarpe, The Battle of the Drocourt-Quant Line, The Battle of the Canal du Nord, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at les Trieux west of Aulnois, Belgium.

6th (Service) Battalion
06.09.1914 Formed at Dorchester as part of the Second New Army (K2) and then moved to Wareham, Dorset attached to the 17th Division.
Mar 1915 Transferred to the 50th Brigade of the 17th Division and then moved to Romsey, Hampshire.
14.07.1915 Mobilised for war and landed at Boulogne and engaged in various actions on the Western Front including
Holding front lines in southern area of Ypres salient.
The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Delville Wood.
The First Battle of the Scarpe, The Second Battle of the Scarpe, The Capture of Roeux, The First Battle of Passchendaele, The Second Battle of Passchendaele.
The Battle of St Quentin, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Amiens, The Battle of Albert, The Battle of Bapaume, The Battle of Havrincourt, The Battle of Epehy, The Battle of Cambrai 1918, The pursuit to the Selle, The Battle of the Selle, The Battle of the Sambre.
11.11.1918 Ended the war at Eclaibes north of Avesnes, France.

7th (Reserve) Battalion
Nov 1914 Formed at Weymouth as a service battalion of the Fourth New Army (K4) as part of the 102nd Brigade of the 34th Division.
10.04.1915 Became a 2nd Reserve Brigade and moved to Wool and Wareham, Dorset.
Oct 1915 Returned to Wool and joined the 8th Reserve Brigade.
01.09.1916 Became the 35th Training Reserve Battalion.

8th (Home Service) Battalion
01.09.1916 Formed at Wool, Dorset as the 2nd (Home Service) Garrison Battalion.
Sept 1916 Moved to Portland, Dorset.
01.11.1916 Became the 8th (Home Service) Battalion.
07.11.1916 Moved to Blackpool and transferred to the 219th Brigade of the 73rd Division.
Jan 1917 Moved to Danbury, Essex.
Dec 1917 Disbanded.

9th Battalion
01.06.1918 Formed at Aldeburgh, Suffolk.
18.06.1918 Absorbed into the 6th Wiltshire Regiment.

1st (Home Service) Garrison Battalion
June 1916 Formed at Wyke Regis, Dorset and then moved to Weymouth and then Portland.
Jan 1917 Disbanded.

Watch the video: Napoleon Totalwar Peninsular campaign thai Part2 (December 2022).

Location Number of Troops
Total % of Force
1804 13,396 2,674 16,070 10.7%
1805 15,800 2,443 18,243 11.3%
1806 13,856 3,075 16,931 9.1%
1807 14,570 2,968 17,538 8.8%
1808 17,183 3,703 20,886 9.2%
1809 21,630 2,937 24,567 10.5%
1810 19,498 3,455 22,953 9.7%
1811 19,019 3,441 22,460 9.8%
1812 20,313 5,185 25,498 10.5%
1813 19,653 4,802 24,455 9.6%