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As soon as five or six thousand of his troops were landed, Buonaparte commenced his march on Alexandria. The Turks manned the walls, and resisted furiously, incensed at this invasion by a Power with which they were nominally at peace. But the walls were ruinous; the French forced their way over several breaches, and commenced an indiscriminate massacre. The place was abandoned to pillage for four hours. As the Mamelukes were hated by the Arabs and the Copts, and were the military mercenaries of the country, chiefly recruited from Georgia and Circassia, Buonaparte determined to destroy them. He considered that he should thus rid himself of the only formidable power in Egypt, and at the same time conciliate the Bedouins and Fellahs. On the 7th of July he set out on his march for Cairo with his whole force. He marched up the bank of the Nile, but at such a distance as to prevent the soldiers from getting any water to quench their burning thirst. It was all that Buonaparte could do to keep his troops in subordination. For fourteen days this melancholy march was continued, when they came at once in sight of the Pyramids, not far distant from Cairo, and of the army of the Mamelukes, drawn up across their way, headed by Murad Bey. This force consisted of five thousand cavalryMamelukes, mounted on the finest Arabian horses in the world, trained to obey the slightest touch of the rein, to advance, wheel, or fly with wonderful rapidity. The riders were all fine men, armed with sabres, pistols, and blunderbusses of the best English workmanship. They were deemed invincible and were ruthlessly cruel. They presented in appearance the finest body of cavalry in the world, the plumes of their turbans waving in the air, and their arms glittering in the sun. There were, moreover, twenty thousand infantry lying in a slightly-entrenched camp on their right; but these were a mere rabblefellaheen, or, in other words, peasantry, brought from their fields, and armed with matchlocks. They had forty pieces of cannon to defend the camp, but these had no carriages, being mounted on clumsy wooden frames. Buonaparte drew up his army so as to keep out of gunshot of the camp, and to deal only with the cavalry first. He formed his troops into squares to resist the onslaught of the cavalry; and as he saw the Mamelukes come on, he called to his men, "From yonder Pyramids twenty centuries behold your actions!" The Mamelukes came thundering on like a whirlwind, and sending before them the most horrible yells. Murad Bey said he would cut up the French like gourds. One of the French squares was thrown into confusion, but it recovered itself, and the battle was instantly a scene of the most desperate fury. The Mamelukes fought like demons; but, finding that they could not break the French ranks, whilst they and their horses were mown down by musketry and artillery, in despair they flung their pistols at their foes, backed their horses up to them to break them by kicking, and finding all unavailing, fled. Such as were left wounded on the ground crept forward to cut at the legs of the French soldiers. Both cavalry and infantry then, by swimming their horses, or in boats, attempted to cross the Nile, but the greater part were drowned in the attempt. Murad Bey, with the residue of his Mamelukes, escaped into Upper Egypt.
Meanwhile Lord Howe had been on the look-out some time for the French fleet, which, it was understood, was about to leave Brest, in order to meet a convoy of merchant ships from the West Indies, and aid it in bringing that trade fleet into port. On reaching Brest, however, he discovered that the French fleet had sailed, and it was not till the 28th of May that he caught sight of it out at sea, opposite the coast of Brittany. The French fleet, commanded by Admiral Villaret Joyeuse, was greatly superior to Howe's in ships, number of seamen, and weight of metal. Howe had twenty-five sail of the line and five frigates, carrying two thousand and ninety-eight guns, in weight of metal twenty-one thousand five hundred and nineteen pounds, and sixteen thousand six hundred and forty-seven men. Joyeuse, now joined by Admiral Neilly, had twenty-six line-of-battle ships and smaller vessels, carrying two thousand one hundred and fifty-eight guns, in weight of metal twenty-five thousand five hundred and twenty-one pounds, and nineteen thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight men. After some skirmishing, on the 1st of June"the glorious first"Howe came to close quarters with the enemy, who was compelled to fight by the presence of the Conventional Commissioner Bon St. Andr. He ordered his fleet to follow his ship, the Charlotte, in cutting right through the enemy's line. Only five ships, however, accomplished this so as to engage the French to the leeward, and prevent them from escaping. Howe afterwards complained that some of his captains had not obeyed his orders, and threatened them with a court-martial; but some replied that their ships were in such bad sailing condition that they could not effect this movement, and others that they did not understand the signal. Thus, five vessels fighting to the leeward, and the rest to the windward, the battle raged furiously from nine in the morning till three in the afternoon, when the French admiral sheered off for Brest, leaving behind seven of his finest vessels in the hands of the British. The British lost in the action two hundred and seventy-nine men, and had eight hundred and seventy-seven wounded. The French lost in six of the captured ships alone six hundred and ninety men, and had five hundred and eighty wounded. The seventh, the Vengeur, went down almost as soon as the British flag was hoisted on her, with, it is supposed, three hundred men in her. Altogether, it is likely that the French did not lose less than fifteen hundred men, besides wounded, and two thousand three hundred prisoners. The British lost a number of officers, who were either killed in the battle or died afterwards of their injuries Amongst these were Sir Andrew Douglas, second captain of Howe's own ship; Captains Montagu of the Montagu, Hutt of the Queen, and Harvey of the Brunswick; Rear-Admirals Pasley of the Bellerophon, and Bowyer of the Barfleur. Admiral Graves and Captain Berkeley were severely wounded. Howe made every effort to pursue and bring the French admiral again to action; but, owing to the bad sailing qualities of English ships at that time, and the shattered state of many of them, he could not overtake Villaret, who made the best of his way to Brest. During the remainder of the year there were various engagements between small squadrons in different quarters, in which the advantage generally remained with the British, besides the training thus afforded to the officers and sailors for the mighty victories which awaited them.
 Ragueneau, Relation, 1652, 2, 3.
 In the edition of 1683. In that of 1697 he had grown to seven or eight feet. The bank-swallows still make their nests in these cliffs, boring easily into the soft sandstone.
This attempt, which was not, as we shall see, the only one of the kind made against La Salle, is alluded to by him in a letter to a friend at Paris, [Pg 117] written in Canada when he was on the point of departure on his great expedition to descend the Mississippi. The following is an extract from it: