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?

3 Answers 3


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)

  • Ah, you beat me by a couple of minutes! :-)
    – taninamdar
    May 30, 2016 at 16:04
  • So from what I understand the British Forces were on the ships all the time mostly. And from time to time they replaced the soldiers from their bases at Gibraltar or Naples. And the only big land invasion from the British came in 1801 when they took Alexandria. I don't understand why Creative Assembly would lie about Cyprus this way. May 31, 2016 at 12:01
  • Naples wasn't a British base as such but, as an ally, they allowed the British ships to repair and replenish there. Fresh sailors for the fleet may, on occasion, have been obtained from Gibraltar but generally, replacement men would only have been available upon return to Britain.
    – Steve Bird
    May 31, 2016 at 12:41
  • As for the game, Creative Assembly took a number of liberties with historical fact, many of which were done in the name of game balance. I imagine Cyprus was 'given' to the British during the Egyptian campaign to avoid having a much larger map which included their base at Gibraltar.
    – Steve Bird
    May 31, 2016 at 12:45

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.

  • I think your first paragraph is probably stretching things a bit. The British fleet in the Mediterranean was relatively small in 1798. It was only after the Battle of the Nile that they gained the upper hand. However, they had limited resources and, therefore, were thinly stretched across the whole Mediterranean. Given the sailing time, re-supplying the Levant flotilla from Gibraltar would have been out of the question.
    – Steve Bird
    May 30, 2016 at 16:17
  • Fair enough. What I meant was that they didn't have to import ships from Britain; they had a presence in the Mediterranean, even though thin it might have been. Role of royal navy in the siege of Acre was only supporting anyway, and it was primarily a land conflict, and didn't require a huge flotilla.
    – taninamdar
    May 30, 2016 at 16:28

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 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.

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