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The Battle of the Nile (also known as the Battle of Aboukir Bay, or in French as the Bataille d'Aboukir) was a major naval battle fought between British and French fleets at Aboukir Baymarker on the Mediterraneanmarker coast of Egyptmarker from 1–3 August 1798. The battle was the climax of a naval campaign that had ranged across the Mediterranean during the previous three months, as a large French convoy sailed from Toulonmarker to Alexandriamarker carrying an expeditionary force under General Napoleon Bonaparte. Bonaparte sought to invade Egypt as the first step in a campaign against British India in an effort to drive Britain out of the French Revolutionary Wars. As Bonaparte's fleet crossed the Mediterranean, it was pursued by a British force under Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, sent from the British fleet in the Tagusmarker to establish the purpose of the French expedition and defeat it. For more than two months Nelson chased the French, on several occasions only missing them by a matter of hours. Bonaparte, aware of Nelson's pursuit, enforced absolute secrecy about his destination and was able to capture Maltamarker and land in Egypt without interception by the British force.

With the French army ashore, the fleet anchored in Aboukir Bay, a station northeast of Alexandria that its commander, Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers believed to be a formidable defensive position. When Nelson's fleet arrived off Alexandria on 1 August, he ordered an immediate attack and his ships advanced on the French line. As they approached, they split into two divisions, one of which cut across the head of the line and passed between the anchored French and the shore while the other engaged the seaward side of the French line. Trapped in a crossfire, the leading French ships were battered into surrender during a fierce three hour battle, while the centre was able to successfully repel the initial British attack. As British reinforcements arrived, the centre came under renewed assault and at 22:00 the French flagship Orient exploded. With Brueys dead and his van and centre defeated, the rear division of the French fleet attempted to break out of the bay but ultimately only two ships of the line and two frigates escaped from a total of 17 ships engaged.

The battle reversed the strategic situation in the Mediterranean, allowing the Royal Navy to assume a dominant position it retained for the rest of the war. It also encouraged other European countries to turn against France, and was a factor in the outbreak of the War of the Second Coalition. Bonaparte's army was trapped in Egypt, and Royal Navy dominance off the Syrian coast contributed significantly to its defeat at the Siege of Acre in 1799 that preceded Bonaparte's return to Europe. Nelson, who had been wounded in the battle, was proclaimed a hero and became Lord Nelson, although he was privately dissatisfied with his rewards. His captains were also highly praised, and would form the nucleus of the legendary Nelsonic Band of Brothers. The battle has remained prominent in popular consciousness, with perhaps the best-known representation being Felicia Hemans 1826 poem Casabianca.


Following Napoleon Bonaparte's victories over the Austrian Empiremarker in Northern Italy – helping to secure France victory in the War of the First Coalition in 1797 – Great Britainmarker remained the only major European power still at war with the French Republic. The French Directory developed various schemes to counter British opposition, including projected invasions of Irelandmarker and Britain, and the expansion of the French Navy to challenge the Royal Navy at sea. Despite significant efforts, British control of Northern European waters rendered these ambitions impractical in the short term, and the British remained firmly in control of the Atlantic Oceanmarker. The French Navy, however, was dominant in the Mediterranean Seamarker from where the Royal Navy had withdrawn in 1796 following the declaration of war between Britain and Spainmarker. This decision allowed Bonaparte to propose an invasion of Egypt as an alternative to confronting Britain directly, believing that they would be too distracted by an imminent Irish uprising to intervene in the Mediterranean.

Bonaparte believed that by establishing a permanent presence in Egypt (nominally part of the neutral Ottoman Empire) the French would have a staging point for future operations against India, possibly in conjunction with the anglophobic Tippoo Sultan of Seringapatammarker, that might successfully drive the British out of the war. The campaign would sever the chain of communication that connected Britain with British India, an essential part of her Empire whose trade links generated the wealth Britain required to prosecute the war successfully. The French Directory agreed with Bonaparte's plans, although a major factor in their decision was a desire to see the politically ambitious Bonaparte and the fiercely loyal veterans of his Italian campaigns as far from France as possible. During the spring of 1798, Bonaparte assembled over 35,000 soldiers in Mediterranean France and Italy, and developed a powerful fleet at Toulonmarker; he also formed the Commission des Sciences et des Arts, a body of scientists and engineers intended to establish the French colony in Egypt. The destination of the expedition was kept top secret; most of the army's officers did not know of its target, and Bonaparte himself did not publicly reveal his goal until the first stage of the expedition was complete.

Mediterranean campaign

Bonaparte's armada sailed on 19 May 1798, departing Toulon and making rapid progress through the Ligurian Seamarker, collecting more ships at Genoamarker and sailing southwards along the Sardinian coast, passing Sicily on 7 June. On 9 June the fleet arrived off Maltamarker, then under the ownership of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, ruled by Ferdinand von Hompesch zu Bolheim. Bonaparte demanded that his fleet be permitted entry to the fortified harbour of Valettamarker, and when the demand was refused the French general responded by ordering a large scale invasion of the Maltese Islands, rapidly overrunning the defenders after 24 hours fighting. The Knights formally surrendered on 12 June and in exchange for substantial financial compensation handed the islands and all of their resources over to Bonaparte, including the extensive property of the Roman Catholic Church on Malta. Within a week Bonaparte had resupplied his ships, and on 19 June his fleet departed for Alexandriamarker in the direction of Cretemarker, leaving 4,000 men at Valetta to ensure French control of the islands.

While Bonaparte was sailing to Malta, the Royal Navy had re-entered the Mediterranean for the first time in over a year. Alarmed by reports of French preparations on the Mediterranean coast, Lord Spencer at the Admiralty sent a message to Vice-Admiral Earl St. Vincent, commander of the Mediterranean Fleet based in the Tagus Rivermarker, to despatch a squadron to investigate. This squadron, consisting of three ships of the line and three frigates, was entrusted to Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson. Nelson was a highly successful officer who had been blinded in one eye during fighting in Corsicamarker in 1794, commended for his capture of two Spanish ships of the line at the Battle of Cape St. Vincentmarker in February 1797 but then lost an arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerifemarker in July 1797. Returning to the fleet at the Tagus in late April, he was ordered to collect the squadron at Gibraltarmarker and sail for the Ligurian Sea. On 21 May, as Nelson's squadron approached Toulon, it was struck by a fierce gale and Nelson's flagship HMS Vanguard lost its topmasts and was almost wrecked on the Corsican coast. The squadron was scattered; the ships of the line sheltered at San Pietro Islandmarker off Sardinia, while the frigates were blown to the west and failed to return.

On 7 June, following hasty repairs to his flagship, Nelson was joined off Toulon by a fleet of ten ships of the line and a fourth rate ship. The fleet was under the command of Captain Thomas Troubridge, and had been sent by Earl St. Vincent to reinforce Nelson with orders that he was to pursue the Toulon convoy and intercept it. Although he now had enough ships to challenge the French fleet, Nelson had two vital disadvantages: he had no intelligence regarding the destination of the French, and no frigates to scout ahead of his force. Striking southwards in the hope of collecting information about French movements, Nelson's ships stopped at Elbamarker and Naplesmarker, where the British ambassador Sir William Hamilton reported that the French fleet had passed Sicily in the direction of Malta, although King Ferdinand of Naples refused to lend his frigates to the British fleet, fearing French reprisals. On 22 June, Nelson encountered a brig sailing from Ragusa and was told that the French had sailed from Malta to the east on 16 June. After conferring with his captains, the admiral decided that the French target must be Egypt and set off in pursuit. Incorrectly believing the French to be five days ahead rather than two, Nelson insisted on a direct route to Alexandria without deviation.

On the evening of 22 June, Nelson's fleet passed the French in the darkness, overtaking the slow invasion convoy without either side realising how close they were to one another. Making rapid time on his direct route, Nelson reached Alexandria on 28 June and discovered that the French were not there. After a meeting with the suspicious Ottoman commander Sayyid Muhammad Kurayyim, Nelson ordered the British fleet northwards, reaching the coast of Anatoliamarker on 4 July and turning westwards back towards Sicily. Nelson had missed the French by less than a day, the scouts of the French fleet arriving off Alexandria in the evening of 29 June. Concerned by his close encounter with Nelson, Bonaparte ordered an immediate invasion, his troops coming ashore in a poorly managed amphibious operation in which at least 20 drowned. Marching along the coast, the French army stormed Alexandria and captured the city, Bonaparte then leading the main force of his army inland. He instructed his naval commander, Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers, to anchor in Alexandria harbour, but naval surveyors reported that the channel into the harbour was too shallow and narrow for the larger ships of the French fleet. As a result an alternative anchorage at Aboukir Baymarker was selected, northeast of Alexandria.

Nelson's fleet reached Syracuse on Sicily on 19 July and took on essential supplies. Nelson wrote letters describing the events of the previous months: "It is an old saying, "the Devil's children have the Devil's luck." I cannot find, or at this moment learn, beyond vague conjecture where the French Fleet are gone to. All my ill fortune, hitherto, has proceeded from want of frigates." By 24 July his fleet was resupplied and, having determined that the French must be somewhere in the Eastern Mediterranean, Nelson sailed again in the direction of Morea. On 28 July at Coronmarker, information was finally obtained describing the French attack on Egypt and Nelson turned south, with his scouts HMS Alexander and HMS Swiftsure discovering the French transport fleet at Alexandria on the afternoon of 1 August.

Aboukir Bay

François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers
When Alexandria harbour proved inadequate for his fleet, Brueys had gathered his captains and discussed their options. Bonaparte had ordered the fleet to anchor in Aboukir Bay, a shallow but exposed anchorage, but had supplemented the orders with the suggestion that if Aboukir Bay was too dangerous Brueys could sail north to Corfumarker, leaving only the transports and a handful of lighter warships at Alexandria. Brueys refused, in the belief that his squadron could provide essential support to the French army on shore, and called his captains aboard his 120-gun flagship Orient to discuss the response should Nelson discover the fleet in its anchorage. Despite the vocal opposition of Rear-Admiral Armand Blanquet, who insisted that the fleet would be best able to respond in open water, the captains agreed that anchoring in a line of battle inside the bay presented the strongest tactic for confronting Nelson. It is possible that Bonaparte envisaged the anchorage as a temporary base: on 27 July he expressed the expectation that Brueys had transferred to Alexandria and three days later issued orders for the fleet to make for Corfu in preparation for naval operations against the Ottoman territories in the Balkans, although the courier was intercepted and killed by Bedouin partisans.

Aboukir Bay is a coastal indentation across, stretching from the village of Abu Qirmarker the west to the town of Rosettamarker to the east, where one of the mouths of the River Nile empties into the Mediterranean. In 1798 the bay was protected at its western end by extensive rocky shoals running into the bay from a promontory guarded by Aboukir Castle. The shoals were also protected by a small fort situated on an island among the rocks. The fort was garrisoned by French soldiers and armed with at least four cannon and two heavy mortars. Brueys had augmented the fort with his bomb vessels and gunboats, which were anchored among the rocks to the west of the island in a position to give support to the head of the French line. Shoals ran unevenly to the south of the island and extended across the bay in a rough semicircle approximately from the shore. These shoals were too shallow to permit passage of larger warships, and so Brueys ordered his thirteen ships of the line to form up in a line of battle following the northeastern edge of the shoals to the south of the island, a position that allowed the ships to disembark supplies from their port side while covering the landings with their starboard batteries. Orders were issued for each ship to attach strong cables to the bow and stern of their neighbours, which would effectively turn the line into a long battery forming a theoretically impregnable barrier. A second inner line of four frigates was positioned approximately west of the main line, roughly halfway between the line and the shoal. The vanguard of the French line was led by Guerrier, positioned southeast of Aboukir Island and about from the edge of the shoals that surrounded the island. The line then stretched southeast with the centre bowed seawards away from the shoal. The French ships were spaced at intervals of and the whole line was long, with the flagship Orient at the centre and two large 80-gun ships anchored either side. The rear division of the line was under the command of Rear-Admiral Pierre-Charles Villeneuve in Guillaume Tell.

In deploying his ships in this way, Brueys hoped that the British would be forced by the shoals to attack his strong centre and rear, allowing his van to use the prevailing northeasterly wind to counterattack the British once they were engaged. However, he had made a serious misjudgement: there was enough room between Guerrier and the shoal for an enemy ship to cut across the head of the line French line, allowing the unsupported vanguard to be caught in a crossfire by two divisions of enemy ships. Brueys dispositions had a second significant flaw, in that the 160 yard gaps between ships were large enough for a British ship to push through and break the French line, and not all of his captains had followed his orders to attach strong cables to their neighbours bow and stern, which would have prevented this manoeuvre. The problem was exacerbated by the orders to only anchor at the bow, which allowed the ships to swing with the wind and widened the gaps. It also created areas within the French line that were not covered by the broadside of any ship, in which a British vessel could anchor and engage the French without reply. In addition, the deployment of his fleet prevented the rear from effectively supporting the van due to the prevailing winds.

A more pressing problem for Brueys was a lack of food and water for the fleet: Bonaparte had unloaded almost all of the provisions carried aboard and no supplies were reaching the ships from the shore. To remedy this, Brueys sent foraging parties of 25 men from each ship along the coast to requisition food, dig wells and collect water. However, constant attacks by Bedouin partisans required each party to have an additional heavy armed guard, resulting in up to a third of the fleet's sailors being away from their ships at any one time. Brueys wrote a letter describing the situation to Minister of Marine Étienne Eustache Bruix, reporting that "Our crews are weak, both in number and quality. Our rigging, in general, out of repair, and I am sure it requires no little courage to undertake the management of a fleet furnished with such tools."

Nelson's arrival

Although initially disappointed that the main French fleet was not at Alexandria, Nelson knew from the presence of the transports that they must be nearby. At 14:00 on 1 August, lookouts on HMS Zealous reported the French anchored in the bay, its signal lieutenant just beating the lieutenant on HMS Goliath with the signal, but inaccurately describing 16 French ships of the line instead of 13. At the same time, French lookouts on Heureux, the ninth ship in the French line, sighted the British fleet approximately off the mouth of Aboukir Bay. The French initially reported just 11 British ships, as Swiftsure and Alexander were still returning from their scouting operations at Alexandria, and so were to the west of the main fleet, out of sight. Troubridge's ship HMS Culloden was also some distance from the main body, towing a captured merchant ship. At the sight of the French, Troubridge abandoned the vessel and made strenuous efforts to rejoin Nelson. Due to the need for so many sailors to work onshore, Brueys had not deployed any of his lighter warships as scouts, which left him unable to swiftly react to the sudden appearance of the British. As his ships readied for action, Brueys ordered his captains to gather for a conference on Orient and hastily recalled his sailors from the shore, although most foraging parties had still not returned by the time the battle began. To replace them, large numbers of men were taken out of the frigates and distributed among the ships of the line. Brueys also hoped to lure the British fleet onto the shoals at Aboukir Island, sending the brigs Alerte and Railleur to act as decoys in the shallow waters. By 16:00, Alexander and Swiftsure were also in sight, although some distance from the main British fleet, and Brueys gave orders to abandon the plan to remain at anchor and instead for his line to set sails. Blanquet protested the order on the grounds that there were not enough men aboard the French ships to both sail the ships and man the guns. Nelson subsequently gave orders for his leading ships to slow down to allow the British fleet to approach in a more organised formation. Convinced by this that rather than risk an evening battle in confined waters, the British were planning to wait for the following day, Brueys rescinded his earlier order to sail. Brueys may have been hoping that the delay would allow him to slip past the British during the night and thus follow Bonaparte's orders not to engage the British fleet directly if it could be avoided.

Nelson's order to slow the advance, issued at 16:00, was in order that his ships could rig springs on their anchor cables, which would allow them to swing their broadsides to face an enemy while stationary at anchor. It also reduced the risk of coming under raking fire as they manoeuvred into position. Nelson's plan, shaped through discussion with his senior captains during the return voyage to Alexandria, was to advance on the French and pass down the seaward side of the van and centre of the French line, so that each French ship would face two British ships and the massive Orient would be fighting against three. The direction of the wind meant that the French rear division would be unable to easily join the battle and would be cut off from the front portions of the line. To ensure that in the smoke and confusion of a night battle his ships would not accidentally open fire on one another, Nelson had ordered that each ship prepare four horizontal lights at the head of their mizenmast and also to hoist an illuminated White Ensign, which was different enough from the French tricolour that it would not be mistaken in poor visibility. As the ship was readied for battle, Nelson held a final dinner with Vanguard's officers, announcing as he rose: "Before this time tomorrow I shall have gained a peerage or [[Westminster Abbey]]."Padfield, p. 119 Shortly after the French order to set sails was abandoned, the British fleet began approaching once again and Brueys, now certain that an attack was coming that night, ordered each of his ships to also place springs on their anchor cables and prepare for action. The ''Alerte'' was sent ahead, passing close to the leading British ships and then steering sharply to the west over the shoal in the hope that the ships of the line might follow and become grounded. None of Nelson's captains fell for the ruse and the British fleet continued undeterred. At 17:30, Nelson hailed one of his two leading ships, HMS ''Zealous'' under Captain [[Sir Samuel Hood, 1st Baronet|Samuel Hood]], which had been racing ''Goliath'' to be the first to fire on the French. The admiral ordered Hood to establish the safest course into the harbour; the British had no charts of the depth or shape of the bay except a rough sketch map ''Swiftsure'' had obtained from a merchant captain, an inaccurate British atlas on ''Zealous'', and a 35-year old French map aboard ''Goliath''.Adkins, p. 24 Hood replied that he would take careful [[:wikt:sounding|soundings]] as he advanced, to test the depth of the water,Clowes, p. 361 and that "If you will allow the honour of leading you into battle, I will keep the lead going."Bradford, p. 202 Shortly afterwards, Nelson paused to speak with [[HMS Mutine (1797)|HMS ''Mutine'']], whose commander Lieutenant [[Sir Thomas Hardy, 1st Baronet|Thomas Hardy]] had seized some [[maritime pilots]] from a small Alexandrine vessel.Padfield, p. 123 As ''Vanguard'' came to a stop, the following ships slowed. This caused a gap to open up between ''Zealous'', ''Goliath'' and the rest of the fleet. To counter this effect, Nelson ordered [[HMS Theseus (1786)|HMS ''Theseus'']] under Captain [[Ralph Willett Miller|Ralph Miller]] to pass his flagship and join ''Zealous'' and ''Goliath'' in the vanguard. By 18:00, the British fleet was under full sail, ''Vanguard'' sixth in the line of ten ships, with ''Culloden'' trailing behind to the north and ''Alexander'' and ''Swiftsure'' hastening to catch up to the west.James, p. 163 Following the rapid change from a loose formation to a rigid line of battle both fleets raised their colours, the British ships adding additional [[Union Jack]]s in the rigging in case the main flag should be shot away.James, p. 164 At 18:20, with ''Goliath'' and ''Zealous'' rapidly bearing down on them, the leading French ships ''Guerrier'' and ''[[French ship Conquérant (1747)|Conquérant]]'' opened fire.Gardiner, p. 33 ==Battle of the Nile== {{dablink|For more details on this topic, see [[Order of battle at the Battle of the Nile]].}} [[Image:Battle of Aboukir Bay.png|thumb|305px|Map of ship positions and movements during the Battle of Aboukir Bay, 1–2 August 1798. British ships are in red; French ships are in blue. Intermediate ship positions are shown in pale red/blue.Based upon a map from Keegan, p. 43|alt=Plan illustrating a line of shoals running roughly north to south. Following the direction of the shoal is a line of 13 large blue "ship" symbols, with two more large symbols and four smaller ones inside this line. Clustered around the head of the "ship" line are 14 red ship symbols, with tracks showing their movements during the engagement.]] Ten minutes after the French opened fire, ''Goliath'', ignoring fire from the fort to [[starboard]] and from ''Guerrier'' to [[port (nautical)|port]], most of which was too high to trouble the ship, crossed the head of the French line. Captain [[Thomas Foley (Royal Navy officer)|Thomas Foley]] had noticed as he approached that there was an unexpected gap between ''Guerrier'' and the shallow water of the shoal. On his own initiative, Foley decided to exploit this tactical error and changed his angle of approach to sail through the gap.Bradford, p. 202 As the bow of ''Guerrier'' came within range, ''Goliath'' opened fire, the double-shotted raking broadside inflicting severe damage as the British ship turned to port and passed down the unprepared port side of ''Guerrier'', Foley's [[Royal Marines]] and a company of Austrian grenadiers joining the attack with their muskets.Warner, p. 102 Foley had intended to anchor alongside the French ship and engage it closely, but his anchor took too long to descend and his ship passed ''Guerrier'' entirely.Mostert, p. 266 ''Goliath'' eventually stopped close to the bow of ''Conquérant'', opening fire on the new opponent and using the unengaged starboard guns to exchange occasional shots with the frigate [[French frigate Sérieuse (1779)|''Sérieuse'']] and bomb vessel ''Hercule'' which were anchored inshore of the battle line. Foley's attack was followed by Hood in ''Zealous'', who also crossed the French line and successfully anchored next to ''Guerrier'' in the space Foley had intended, engaging the lead ship's bow from close range.Adkins, p. 25 Within five minutes ''Guerrier'''s foremast had fallen, to cheers from the crews of the approaching British ships.Clowes, p. 362 The French captains had been taken by surprise by the speed of the British advance, and were still aboard ''Orient'' in conference with the admiral when the firing started. Hastily launching their boats, they returned to their vessels, Captain [[Jean-François-Timothée Trullet (elder)|Jean-François-Timothée Trullet]] of ''Guerrier'' shouting orders from his barge for his men to return fire on ''Zealous''. The third British ship into action was [[HMS Orion (1787)|HMS ''Orion'']] under Captain [[James Saumarez, 1st Baron de Saumarez|Sir James Saumarez]], which rounded the engagement at the head of the battle line and passed between the French main line and the frigates that lay closer inshore.Padfield, p. 124 As he did so, the frigate ''Sérieuse'' opened fire on ''Orion'', wounding two men. The convention in naval warfare of the time was that ships of the line did not attack frigates when there were ships of equal size to engaged, but in firing first Captain [[Claude-Jean Martin]] had negated the rule and Saumarez waited until the frigate was at close range before replying.Adkins, p. 26 ''Orion'' needed just one broadside to reduce the frigate to a wreck, Martin's disabled ship drifting away over the shoal. During the delay caused by this detour, two other British ships joined the battle: ''Theseus'', which had been disguised as a [[first-rate]] ship,Warner, p. 109 followed Foley's track across ''Guerrier'''s bow, Miller steering his ship through the middle of the melee between the anchored British and French ships until he encountered the third French ship [[HMS Spartiate (1798)|''Spartiate'']]. Anchoring to port, Miller's ship opened fire at close range. [[HMS Audacious (1785)|HMS ''Audacious'']] under Captain [[Davidge Gould]] crossed the French line between ''Guerrier'' and ''Conquérant'', anchoring between the ships and raking them both.[[#noteb|[Note B]]] ''Orion'' then rejoined the action further south than intended, firing on the fifth French ship ''[[French ship Souverain (1792)|Peuple Souverain]]'' and Admiral Blanquet's flagship [[French ship Franklin (1797)|''Franklin'']].James, p. 165 The next three British ships: ''Vanguard'' in the lead followed by [[HMS Minotaur (1793)|HMS ''Minotaur'']] and [[HMS Defence (1763)|HMS ''Defence'']], remained in line of battle formation and anchored on the starboard side of the French line at 18:40. Nelson focused his flagship's fire on ''Spartiate'', while Captain [[Thomas Louis]] in ''Minotaur'' attacked the unengaged ''[[French ship Aquilon (1789)|Aquilon]]'' and Captain [[John Peyton (Royal Navy officer)|John Peyton]] in ''Defence'' joined the attack on ''Peuple Souverain''. With the French vanguard now heavily outnumbered, the following British ships [[HMS Bellerophon (1786)|HMS ''Bellerophon'']] and [[HMS Majestic (1785)|HMS ''Majestic'']] passed by the melee and advanced on the so far unengaged French centre.Padfield, p. 127 Both ships were soon fighting enemies much more powerful than themselves and began to take severe damage: Captain [[Henry D'Esterre Darby|Henry Darby]] on ''Bellerophon'' missed his intended anchor near ''Franklin'', and instead found his ship underneath the main battery of the French flagship,Adkins, p. 28 while Captain [[George Blagdon Westcott]] on ''Majestic'' also missed his station and almost collided with ''Heureux'', coming under heavy fire from [[HMS Tonnant (1792)|''Tonnant'']]. Unable to stop in time, Westcott's [[jib|jib boom]] tore into ''Tonnant'''s shroud, becoming entangled.Bradford, p. 204 The French ships suffered too: Admiral Brueys on ''Orient'' was severely wounded in the face and hand by flying debris during the opening exchange of fire with ''Bellerophon''. The final ship of the British line, ''Culloden'' under Troubridge, sailed too close to Aboukir Island in the growing darkness and became stuck fast on the shoal. Despite strenuous efforts from the ship's boats, the brig ''Mutine'' and the 50-gun [[HMS Leander (1780)|HMS ''Leander'']] under Captain [[Sir Thomas Thompson, 1st Baronet|Thomas Thompson]], the ship of the line could not be moved, the action of the waves driving ''Culloden'' further onto the shoal and inflicting severe damage to Troubridge's hull.Clowes, p. 363 ===Surrender of the French van=== [[Image:Seeschlacht bei Abukir.jpg|thumb|left|300px|''Battle of the Nile'', [[Thomas Luny]]|alt=Five ships flying the British flag advance towards a battle scene in which the only clear detail is a huge burning ship.]] At 19:00 the identifying lights in the mizenmasts of the British fleet were lit. By this time, ''Guerrier'' had been completely dismasted and heavily battered. ''Zealous'' by contrast was barely touched: Hood had situated ''Zealous'' outside the arc of most of the French ship's broadside and in any case ''Guerrier'' was not prepared for an engagement on both sides simultaneously, with stores blocking the port guns. Although their ship was a wreck, the crew of ''Guerrier'' refused to surrender, continuing to fire the few functional guns whenever possible despite the heavy answering fire from ''Zealous''.Mostert, p. 267 In addition to his cannon fire, Hood called up his Marines and ordered them to fire volleys of musket shot at the deck of the French ship, driving the crew out of sight but still failing to secure the surrender from Captain Trullet. It was not until 21:00, when Hood sent a small boat to ''Guerrier'' with a boarding party, that the French ship finally surrendered. ''Conquérant'' was defeated more rapidly, after heavy broadsides from passing British ships and the close attentions of ''Audacious'' and ''Goliath'' brought down all three masts before 19:00. With his ship immobile and badly damaged, the mortally wounded Captain [[Etienne Dalbarade]] [[Striking the colours|struck his colours]] and a boarding party seized control. Unlike ''Zealous'', the British ships engaged had suffered relatively severe damage, ''Goliath'' losing most of its rigging, suffering damage to all three masts and receiving over 60 casualties.James, p. 167 With his opponents defeated, Captain Gould on ''Audacious'' used the spring on his cable to transfer fire to ''Spartiate'', the next French ship in line. To the west of the battle the battered ''Serieusé'' sank over the shoal, the masts protruding from the water as the survivors scrambled into boats and rowed for the shore. The transfer of ''Audacious'''s broadside to ''Spartiate'' meant that Captain [[Maurice-Julien Emeriau]] was now faced with three opponents. Within minutes all three masts had fallen, but the battle around the ship continued until 21:00, when the badly wounded Emeriau ordered his colours struck. Although ''Spartiate'' was outnumbered, the ship had been supported by the next in line ''Aquilon'', which uniquely of the French van squadron was fighting only one opponent, ''Minotaur''. Captain [[Henri-Alexandre Thévenard]] used the spring on his anchor cable to angle his broadside into a raking position across the bow of Nelson's flagship, which consequently suffered over 100 casualties, including the admiral. At approximately 20:30, Nelson was stuck over his blinded right eye by an iron splinter fired in a [[:wikt:langrage|langrage]] shot from ''Spartiate''.Warner, p. 92 The wound caused a flap of skin to fall across his face, rendering him temporarily completely blind.James, p. 175 Nelson collapsed into the arms of Captain [[Edward Berry]] and was carried below. Certain that his wound was fatal, he cried out "I am killed, remember me to my wife", and called for his chaplain [[Stephen George Comyn|Stephen Comyn]].Bradford, p. 205 The wound was immediately inspected by ''Vanguard'''s surgeon Michael Jefferson, who informed the admiral that it was a simple flesh wound and stitched the skin together.Adkins, p. 31 Nelson subsequently ignored Jefferson's instructions to remain inactive, returning to the quarterdeck shortly before the explosion on ''Orient'' to oversee the closing stages of the battle. Although it had been successful, ''Aquilon'''s manoeuvre placed her own bow under the guns of ''Minotaur'' and by 21:25 the French ship was dismasted and battered, Captain Thévenard killed and his junior officers forced to surrender.James, p. 168 With his opponent defeated, Captain [[Thomas Louis]] then took ''Minotaur'' south to join the attack on ''Franklin''.Clowes, p. 365 [[Image:Nelson at the Battle of the Nile.jpg|thumb|300px|''Battle of the Nile, 1st August 1798'', [[Daniel Orme]], 1805. Nelson returns on deck after his wound is dressed.|alt=the quarterdeck of a ship, with many sailors moving about. In the centre stands a man in an officer's uniform with a bandage around his head. He is looking to the left of the picture, where in the background a large ship is on fire.]] The fifth French ship, ''Peuple Souverain'' was attacked from either side by ''Defence'' and ''Orion'' and rapidly lost the fore and main masts, although Captain Saumarez was wounded in the thigh by a wooden block smashed off one of ''Orion'''s masts that had already killed two other men before it struck him. On ''Peuple Souverain'', the badly wounded Captain [[Pierre-Paul Raccord]] ordered his ship's anchor cable cut in an effort to escape the bombardment and ''Peuple Souverain'' drifted south towards the flagship ''Orient'', which mistakenly opened fire on the darkened vessel.Germani, p. 59 ''Orion'' and ''Defence'' were unable to immediately pursue, as ''Defence'' had lost its fore topmast and ''Orion'' was narrowly missed by an improvised [[fireship]] that drifted through the battle. The origin of this vessel, an abandoned and burning ship's boat laden with highly flammable material, is uncertain but it may have been launched from ''Guerrier'' as the battle began. ''Peuple Souverain'' anchored not far from ''Orient'', but took no further part in the fighting. The wrecked ship surrendered during the night. ''Franklin'' remained in combat, but Blanquet had suffered a severe head wound and Captain Gillet had been carried below unconcious with severe wounds. Shortly afterwards, a fire broke out on the quarterdeck after an arms locker exploded, which was eventually extinguished with difficulty by the crew.Warner, p. 94 To the south, ''Bellerophon'' was in serious trouble as the huge broadside of ''Orient'' pounded the ship. At 19:50 the mizenmast and mainmast both collapsed and fires broke out simultaneously at several points.Clowes, p. 366 Although the blazes were extinguished the ship had suffered over 200 casualties. Captain Darby recognised that his position was untenable and ordered the anchor cables cut at 20:20, the battered ship drifting away from the battle under continued fire from ''Tonnant'' as the foremast collapsed as well.Gardiner, p. 34 ''Orient'' had also suffered significant damage and Admiral Brueys had been struck in the midriff by a cannonball that almost cut him in half. The French admiral took fifteen minutes to die, remaining on deck and refusing to be carried below by his men.Germani, p. 58 ''Orient'''s captain [[Luc-Julien-Joseph Casabianca]] was also wounded, struck in the face by flying debris and knocked unconscious,Padfield, p. 129 while his ten-year old son had a leg torn off by a cannonball as he stood beside his father.Warner, p. 88 The final British ship in action, ''Majestic'', had become briefly entangled with the 80-gun ''Tonnant'',Padfield, p. 128 and in the confusion Captain Westcott was killed by French [[musket]] fire.Mostert, p. 268 Lieutenant Robert Cuthbert assumed command and detached his ship, allowing the badly damaged ''Majestic'' to drift southwards so that by 20:30 it was stationed between ''Tonnant'' and the next in line ''Heureux'', engaging both.James, p. 169 To support the centre, Captain Thompson of ''Leander'' abandoned the futile efforts to drag the stranded ''Culloden'' off the shoal and sailed down the embattled French line, entering the gap created by the drifting ''Peuple Souverain'' and opening a fierce raking fire on ''Franklin'' and ''Orient''.Clowes, p. 364 While the battle raged in the bay, the two straggling British ships made strenuous efforts to join the battle, focusing on the flashes of gunfire in the darkness. Warned away from the Aboukir shoals by the grounded ''Culloden'', Captain [[Benjamin Hallowell]] in ''Swiftsure'' passed the melee at the head of the line and aimed his ship at the French centre. Shortly after 20:00, a dismasted hulk was spotted drifting in front of ''Swiftsure'' and Hallowell initially ordered his men to fire before rescinding the order, concerned for the identity of the strange vessel. Hailing the battered ship, Hallowell received the reply "Bellerophon, going out of action disabled." Relieved that he had not accidentally attacked one of his own ships in the darkness, Hallowell pulled up between ''Orient'' and ''Franklin'' and opened fire on them both.Adkins, p. 29 ''Alexander'', the final unengaged British ship, pulled up close to ''Tonnant'', which had begun to drift away from the embattled French flagship. Captain [[Alexander John Ball|Alexander Ball]] then joined the attack on ''Orient''.James, p. 170 ===Destruction of ''Orient''=== [[Image:Luny Thomas Battle Of The Nile August 1st 1798 At 10pm.jpg|left|thumb|300px|''Battle of the Nile'', [[Thomas Luny]].|alt=A confused naval battle. Two battered ships drift in the foreground while smoke and flame boil from a third. In the background smoke rises from a confused melee of battling ships.]] At 21:00, fire was seen spreading through the lower decks of ''Orient''.Keegan, p. 64 Identifying the danger this posed to the French flagship, Captain Hallowell directed his men to aim their cannon directly into the blaze, spreading it throughout the ship's stern and preventing efforts to extinguish it. Within minutes the flames had ascended the rigging and set the vast sails alight, the ship transformed into a raging inferno. The nearest British ships, ''Swiftsure'', ''Alexander'' and ''Orion'', all stopped firing, closed their gunports and began edging away from the blazing flagship in anticipation of the detonation of the enormous ammunition supplies stored on board. In addition, fire parties were taken away from the guns and soaked the sails and decks in seawater to help contain any resulting blazes. Likewise the French ships ''Tonnant'', ''Heureux'' and ''[[French ship Mercure (1783)|Mercure]]'' all cut their anchor cables and drifted southwards away from the blazing wreck.Keegan, p. 65 At 22:00 the fire reached the magazines and the ship was torn apart by a massive explosion. The concussion of the blast alone was sufficient to tear open the seams of the nearest ships, and flaming wreckage landed in a huge circle, much of it flying directly over the surrounding ships into the sea beyond.James, p. 171 ''Swiftsure'', ''Alexander'' and ''Franklin'' were all set alight by falling wreckage although in each case teams of sailors with water buckets succeeded in extinguishing the flames, despite a secondary explosion on ''Franklin''.Mostert, p. 271 It has never been firmly established how the fire on ''Orient'' broke out, but one common account is that jars of oil and paint had been left on the [[poop deck]] rather than properly stowed away after paintwork on the ship's hull had been completed shortly before the battle. Burning [[wadding]] from one of the British ships is believed to have floated onto the poop deck and ignited the paint, the fire rapidly spreading through the admiral's cabin and into a ready magazine that stored [[Carcass (projectile)|carcass]] ammunition that was designed to burn more fiercely in water than in air. Fleet Captain [[Honoré Ganteaume]] later reported the cause as an explosion on the quarterdeck, preceded by a series of minor fires on the maindeck among the ship's boats.Adkins, p. 34 Whatever its origin, the fire spread rapidly though the ship's rigging, unchecked by the fire pumps aboard which had been smashed by British shot.Adkins, p. 35 A second blaze then began at the bow that trapped hundreds of sailors in the ship's waist.Mostert, p. 270 When the ammunition stores detonated, the ship was completlely destroyed. Subsequent archaeological investigation found debris scattered over {{convert|500|m|yd}} of seabed and evidence that the ship was wracked by two huge explosions one after the other. Hundreds of men dived into the sea to escape the flames, but less than 100 survived the blast: of the survivors approximately 70 were picked up by British boats, including the wounded staff officer [[Léonard-Bernard Motard]]. A very few others managed to reach the shore on rafts, including Ganteaume. The remainder of the crew, numbering over a thousand men, were killed, including Captain Casabianca and his son.Mostert, p. 269 [[File:Battle of the Nile, Whitcombe.jpg|thumb|300px|right|''Battle of the Nile, Augt 1st 1798'', [[Thomas Whitcombe]], 1816. The climax of the battle, as ''Orient'' explodes|alt=An engraved print showing nine ships in various states of disrepair. In the centre right, a tenth ship is exploding, a column of fire and debris rising from the wreck.]] For ten minutes after the explosion there was silence; sailors from both sides were either too shocked by the blast or desperately extinguishing fires to continue the fight. During the lull, Nelson gave orders that boats be sent to pull survivors from the water around the remains of ''Orient''. At 22:10, ''Franklin'' restarted the engagement by firing on ''Swiftsure''.Gardiner, p. 36 Isolated and battered, Blanquet's ship was soon dismasted and the admiral, suffering a severe head wound, was forced to surrender by the combined firepower of ''Swiftsure'' and ''Defence''.Clowes, p. 367 More than half of ''Franklin'''s crew had been killed or wounded. By 24:00 only ''Tonnant'' remained engaged, Commodore [[Aristide Aubert Du Petit Thouars]] continuing his fight with ''Majestic'' and also firing on ''Swiftsure'' when the British ship moved within range. By 03:00, after more than three hours of close quarter combat, ''Majestic'' had lost its main and mizzen masts while ''Tonnant'' was a dismasted hulk. Although Captain Du Petit Thouars had lost both legs and an arm he remained in command, insisting on having the tricolour nailed to the mast to prevent it being struck and giving orders from his position propped up on deck in a bucket of wheat. Under his guidance, the battered ''Tonnant'' gradually drifted southwards away from the action to join the southern division under Villeneuve.James, p. 172 Throughout the engagement the French rear had kept up an arbitrary fire on the battling ships ahead, the only noticeable effect occurring when [[French ship Le Généreux|''Généreux'']] accidentally fired on the neighbouring ''[[French ship Commerce de Bordeaux (1785)|Timoléon]]'' and smashed its rudder.Germani, p. 60 ===Morning=== As the sun rose at 04:00 on 2 August, firing broke out once again between the French southern division of ''Guillaume Tell'', ''Tonnant'', ''Généreux'' and ''Timoléon'' and the battered ''Alexander'' and ''Majestic''.Clowes, p. 368 Although briefly outmatched, the British ships were soon joined by ''Goliath'' and ''Theseus''. As Captain Miller manoeuvred his ship into position, ''Theseus'' briefly came under fire from the frigate ''[[French frigate Artémise (1794)|Artémise]]''. Miller turned his ship towards ''Artémise'', but Captain [[Pierre-Jean Standelet]] struck his flag and ordered his men to abandon the frigate. Miller sent a boat under Lieutenant [[William Hoste]] to take possession of the empty vessel, but Standelet had set fire to his ship as he left and ''Artémise'' blew up shortly afterwards.Warner, p. 111 The surviving French ships of the line, covering their retreat with gunfire, gradually pulled to the east away from the shore at 06:00. ''Zealous'' pursued, and was able to prevent the frigate ''[[French frigate Justice (1794)|Justice]]'' from boarding ''Bellerophon'', which was anchored at the southern point of the bay undergoing hasty repairs. Two other French ships still flew the tricolour, but neither was in a position to either retreat or fight. When ''Heureux'' and ''Mercure'' had cut their anchor cables to escape the exploding ''Orient'', their crews had panicked and neither captain (both of whom were wounded) had regained control of their ship. As a result, both vessels had drifted onto the shoal.Germani, p. 61 Stranded and defenceless, the ships were attacked by ''Alexander'', ''Goliath'', ''Theseus'' and ''Leander'' and both surrendered within minutes. The distractions provided by ''Heureux'', ''Mercure'' and ''Justice'' allowed Villeneuve to bring most of the surviving French ships to the mouth of the bay at 11:00. However the dismasted ''Tonnant'', Commodore Du Petit Thouars now dead from his wounds and thrown overboard at his own request,Adkins, p. 30 was unable to make the required speed and was driven ashore by its crew, while ''Timoléon'' was too far south to escape with Villeneuve and in attempting to join the survivors had grounded on the shoal, the force of the impact dislodging the foremast.Mostert, p. 272 The remaining French vessels: the ships of the line ''Guillaume Tell'' and ''Généreux'' and the frigates ''Justice'' and ''[[French frigate Diane (1796)|Diane]]'', formed up and stood out to sea, pursued by ''Zealous''.Gardiner, p. 38 Despite strenuous efforts, Captain Hood's isolated ship came under heavy fire and was unable to cut off the trailing ''Justice'', the French survivors escaping seawards.James, p. 173 For the remainder of 2 August Nelson's ships made improvised repairs and boarded and consolidated their prizes. ''Culloden'' especially required assistance: having finally dragged his ship off the shoal at 02:00, Troubridge found that he had lost his rudder and was taking on over {{convert|120|LT|MT|0}} of water an hour. Emergency repairs to the hull and fashioning a replacement rudder from a spare topmast took most of the next two days.James, p. 178 On the morning of 3 August, Nelson sent ''Theseus'' and ''Leander'' to force the surrender of the grounded ''Tonnant'' and ''Timoléon''. The former ship, its decks crowded with 1,600 surivors from other French vessels, surrendered as the British ships approached while the latter was set on fire by her remaining crew who then escaped to the shore in small boats.Adkins, p. 37 ''Timoléon'' exploded shortly after midday, the eleventh and final French ship of the line destroyed or captured during the battle. ==Aftermath== {{quote|"[I] went on deck to view the state of the fleets, and an awful sight it was. The whole Bay was covered with dead bodies, mangled, wounded and scorched, not a bit of clothes on them except their trousers."|Account by Seaman John Nicol of ''Goliath''|Warner, p. 103}} [[Image:Battle of the Nile PW4704.jpg|thumb|300px|''A True Position of the French Fleet as they were moored near the Mouth of the Nile and the manner in which Lord Nelson formed his attack on them'', [[Robert Dodd (artist)|Robert Dodd]], 1800|alt=A map showing a line of 13 ships, mostly dismasted and two on fire. On either side are six ships flying British flags, some in a state of disrepair. Four other ships sit along the coastline, one on fire while a large ship and a small ship are grounded on a shoal which is surmounted by a burning fort.]] British casualties in the battle were recorded with some accuracy in the immediate aftermath as 218 killed and approximately 677 wounded, although the number of wounded who subsequently died is not known. The ships that suffered most were ''Bellerophon'' with 201 casualties and ''Majestic'' with 193, while other than ''Culloden'' the lightest losses were on ''Zealous'', which had one man killed and seven wounded. The casualty list includes Captain Westcott, five lieutenants and 10 junior officers among the dead and Admiral Nelson, Captains Saumarez, Ball and Darby and six lieutenants wounded. Other than ''Culloden'', the only British ships seriously damaged in their hulls were ''Bellerophon'', ''Majestic'' and ''Vanguard'', while ''Bellerophon'' and ''Majestic'' were the only ships to lose masts: ''Majestic'' the main and mizzen and ''Bellerophon'' all three.Clowes, p. 369 French casualties are harder to calculate but were significantly higher. Estimates of French losses range from 2,000 to 5,000, with a suggested a median point of 3,500 which includes over a thousand captured wounded and nearly 2,000 killed, half of which died on ''Orient''.[[#notea|[Note A]]] In addition to Admiral Brueys killed and Admiral Blanquet wounded, four captains died and seven others were seriously wounded. The French ships suffered similarly severe damage: two ships of the line and two frigates were destroyed (as well as a bomb vessel scuttled by its crew),Warner, p. 121 and three other captured ships were too battered to ever sail again. Of the remaining prizes, only three were ever sufficiently repaired for frontline service. For weeks afterwards bodies washed up along the Egyptian coast, decaying slowly in the intense dry heat. Nelson, who on surveying the battle on the morning of 2 August said "Victory is not a name strong enough for such a scene",Warner, p. 95 remained at anchor in Aboukir Bay for the next two weeks, preoccupied with recovering from his wound, writing dispatches and assessing the military situation in Egypt using documents captured on board one of the prizes.Maffeo, p. 273 Nelson's head wound was recorded as being "three inches long", with "the cranium exposed for one inch". He suffered pain from the injury for the rest of his life and was badly scarred, styling his hair to disguise it as much as possible.Warner, p. 104 As their commander recovered, his men stripped the wrecks of useful supplies and made repairs to their ships and prizes. Throughout the week, Aboukir Bay was surrounded by bonfires, lit by Bedouin tribesmen in celebration of the British victory.Cole, p. 110 On 5 August, ''Leander'' was despatched to [[Cadiz]] with messages for Earl St. Vincent carried by Captain Edward Berry.James, p. 182 Over the next few days all but 200 of the captured prisoners were landed on shore under strict terms of [[parole]], although Bonaparte later ordered them to be formed into an infantry unit and added to his army.James, p. 183 On 8 August the fleet's boats stormed Aboukir Island, which surrendered without a fight. The landing party removed four of the guns and destroyed the rest along with the fort they were mounted in, renaming the island "Nelson's Island". On 10 August Nelson sent Lieutenant Thomas Duval from ''Zealous'' with messages to the government in India. Duval travelled across the Middle East overland via [[Aleppo]] and took a ship from [[Basra]] to [[Bombay]], acquainting [[Governor-General of India]] [[Richard Wellesley, 1st Marquess Wellesley|Viscount Wellesley]] with the situation in Egypt.Maffeo, p. 273 On 12 August the frigates [[HMS Emerald (1796)|HMS ''Emerald'']] under Captain Thomas Moutray Waller, [[HMS Alcmene (1794)|HMS ''Alcmene'']] under Captain [[George Johnstone Hope]] and [[HMS Bonne Citoyenne|HMS ''Bonne Citoyenne'']] under Captain Robert Retalick arrived off Alexandria. Initially the frigate squadron was mistaken for French warships and chased away by ''Swiftsure'', returning the following day once the error had been realised. The same day as the frigates arrived, ''Mutine'' was sent to Britain with despatches under the command of Lieutenant [[Thomas Bladen Capel]], who had replaced Hardy after the latter's promotion to captain of ''Vanguard''. On 14 August, Nelson sent ''Orion'', ''Majestic'', ''Bellerophon'', ''Minotaur'', ''Defence'', ''Audacious'', ''Theseus'', ''Franklin'', ''Tonnant'', ''Aquilon'', ''Conquérant'', ''Peuple Souverain'' and ''Spartiate'' to sea under the command of Saumarez. Many ships had only [[jury masts]] and it took a full day for the convoy to reach the mouth of the bay, finally sailing into open water on 15 August. On 16 August the grounded prize ''Heureux'' was set on fire and destroyed as no longer fit for service and on 18 August ''Guerrier'' and ''Mercure'' were also burnt. On 19 August, Nelson sailed for Naples with ''Vanguard'', ''Culloden'' and ''Alexander'', leaving Hood in command of ''Zealous'', ''Goliath'', ''Swiftsure'' and the recently joined frigates to watch over French activities at Alexandria.James, p. 184 The first message to reach Bonaparte regarding the disaster that had overtaken his fleet arrived on 14 August at his camp on the road between [[Salahieh]] and [[Cairo]]. The messenger was a staff officer sent by the Governor of Alexandria General [[Jean Baptiste Kléber]], and the report had been hastily written by Admiral Ganteaume, who had subsequently rejoined Villeneuve's ships at sea. One account reports that when he was handed the message, Bonaparte read it without emotion before calling the messenger to him and demanding further details. When the messenger had finished, the French general reportedly announced ''"Noun n'avrons plus de flotte: eh bien. il faut rester en ses contrées, ou en sortie grands comme les anciens"'' ("We no longer have a fleet: well, we must either remain in this country or quit it as great as the ancients"). Another story, as told by the general's secretary [[Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne|Bourienne]] claims that Bonaparte was almost overcome by the news and exclaimed "Unfortunate Brueys, what have you done!" Bonaparte later placed much the blame for the defeat on the wounded Admiral Blanquet, falsely accusing him of surrendering ''Franklin'' while his ship was undamaged. Protestations from Ganteaume and Minister Étienne Eustache Bruix later reduced the degree of criticism Blanquet faced, but he never again served in a command capacity. Bonaparte's most immediate concern however was with his own officers, who began to question the wisdom of the entire expedition. Inviting his most senior officers to dinner, Bonaparte asked them how they were. When they replied that they were "marvellous", Bonaparte responded that it was just as well, since he would have them shot if they continued "fostering mutinies and preaching revolt."Cole, p. 111 To quell any uprising among the native inhabitants, Egyptians overheard discussing the battle were threatened with having their tongues cut out.Cole, p. 112 ===Reaction=== Nelson's first set of dispatches were captured when ''Leander'' was intercepted and defeated by ''Généreux'' in a fierce engagement off the western shore of Crete [[Action of 18 August 1798|on 18 August 1798]]. As a result, reports of the battle did not reach Britain until Capel arrived in ''Mutine'' on 2 October,Clowes, p. 373 entering the Admiralty at 11:15 and personally delivering the news to Lord Spencer,Warner, p. 147 who collapsed unconscious when he heard the report. Although Nelson had previously been castigated in the press for failing to intercept the French fleet, firm rumours of the battle had begun to arrive in Britain from the continent in late September, and the news Capel brought was greeted with celebrations right across the country.Maffeo, p. 277 At the Admiralty, Within four days Nelson had been elevated to Baron Nelson of the Nile and Burnham Thorpe, a title with which he was privately dissatisfied, believing his actions deserved better reward.Jordan & Rogers, p. 219 [[George III of the United Kingdom|King George III]] addressed the [[Parliament of Great Britain|Houses of Parliament]] on 20 November with the words: {{quote|The unexampled series of our naval triumphs has received fresh splendour from the memorable and decisive action, in which a detachment of my fleet, under the command of Rear-Admiral Lord Nelson, attacked, and almost totally destroyed a superior force of the enemy, strengthened by every advantage of situation. By this great and brilliant victory, an enterprise, of which the injustice, perfidy, and extravagance had fixed the attention of the world, and which was peculiarly directed against some of the most valuable interests of the British empire, has, in the first instance, been turned to the confusion of its authors and: and the blow thus given to the power and influence of France, has afforded an opening, which, if improved by suitable exertions on the part of other powers, may lead to the general deliverance of Europe.|King George III, quoted in [[William James (naval historian)|William James]]' ''The Naval History of Great Britain during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars'', Volume 2, 1827|James, p. 186}} The convoy of prizes stopped first at Gibraltar, where ''Peuple Souverain'' was deemed too badly damaged for the Atlantic voyage to Britain and was converted to a guardship under the name of HMS ''Guerrier''. The remaining prizes underwent basic repairs and then sailed for Britain, arriving at [[Plymouth]]. Their age and battered state meant that neither ''Conquérant'' nor ''Aquilon'' were considered fit for active service in the Royal Navy and both were subsequently hulked, although they had been bought into the service for £20,000 (the equivalent of £{{Formatnum:{{Inflation|UK|20000|1798|r=-3}}|0}} as of {{CURRENTYEAR}}){{Inflation-fn|UK}} each as HMS ''Conquerant'' and HMS ''Aboukir'' to provide a financial reward to the crews that had captured them.James, p. 185 Similar sums were also paid out for ''Guerrier'', ''Mercure'', ''Heureux'' and ''Peuple Souverain'', while the other captured ships were worth considerably more. Built of Adriatic [[oak]], ''Tonnant'' had been built in 1792 and ''Franklin'' and ''Spartiate'' were less than a year old. ''Tonnant'' and ''Spartiate'', both of which later fought at the [[Battle of Trafalgar]], joined the Royal Navy under the same names, while ''Franklin'', considered to be "the finest two-decked ship in the world", was renamed HMS ''Canopus''. Additional awards were presented to the British fleet: Nelson was awarded £2,000 (£{{Formatnum:{{Inflation|UK|2000|1798|r=-1}}|0}} as of {{CURRENTYEAR}}) a year for life by the Parliament of Great Britain and £1,000 per annum by the [[Parliament of Ireland]], although the latter was inadvertently discontinued after the [[Act of Union 1800|Act of Union]] dissolved the Irish Parliament.Warner, p. 146 Both parliaments gave unanimous votes of thanks, each captain who served in the battle was presented with a specially minted gold medal and the first lieutenant of every ship engaged in the battle was promoted to commander. Although initially excluded, Nelson personally interceded on the part of the crew of the stranded ''Culloden'' and as a result Troubridge and his men were given equal shares in the awards, despite having been unable to participate directly in the engagement. The [[Honourable East India Company]] presented Nelson with £10,000 (£{{Formatnum:{{Inflation|UK|10000|1798|r=-1}}|0}} as of {{CURRENTYEAR}}) in recognition of the benefit his action had on their holdings and similar awards were made by the cities of [[London]], [[Liverpool]] and other municipal and corporate bodies.James, p. 187 From his own captains, Nelson was presented with a sword and a portrait as "proof of their esteem". Nelson publicly encouraged this close bond with his officers and on 29 September 1798 described them as "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers", echoing [[William Shakespeare]]'s play [[Henry V (play)|''Henry V'']]. From this grew the notion of the [[Nelsonic Band of Brothers]], a cadre of high-quality naval officers that served with Nelson for the remainder of his life.{{cite journal |last= Lambert|first= Andrew |authorlink= Andrew Lambert |coauthors= |year= |month= |title=Nelson's Band of Brothers (act. 1798) |journal=[[Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]], {{ODNBsub}} |volume= |issue= |pages= |id= |url= |accessdate=21 October 2009 |quote= }} Nearly five decades later the battle was among the actions recognised by a clasp attached to the [[Naval General Service Medal]], awarded upon application to all British participants still living in 1847.{{LondonGazette|issue=20939|startpage=236|endpage=245|date=26 January 1849|accessdate=21 November 2009}} [[File:Nelson crocodiles.jpg|thumb|left|305px|''The Gallant Nellson bringing home two Uncommon fierce French Crocadiles from the Nile as a Present to the King'', [[James Gilray]], 1798. The crocodiles represent Fox and Sheridan|alt=An engraved print showing a man in a distinctive naval uniform dragging two crocodiles with human heads. To the right of the image a man in a peasant's smock cheers approvingly.]]Other rewards were bestowed by foreign states, particularly the [[Ottoman Emperor]] [[Selim III]], who made Nelson the first Knight Commander of the newly created [[Order of the Crescent]], presented him with a diamond [[aigrette]], a diamond studded rose, a sable fur and numerous other valuable presents. Tsar [[Paul I of Russia]] sent, among other rewards, a gold box studded with diamonds and similar gifts in silver arrived from other European rulers.Gardiner, p. 40 On his arrival at Naples, Nelson was greeted with a triumphal procession led by [[Ferdinand IV of Naples|King Ferdinand IV]] and Sir William Hamilton and was introduced for only the third time to Sir William's wife [[Lady Emma Hamilton]], who fainted violently at the meeting,Adkins, p. 40 and apparently took several weeks to recover from her injuries.Bradford, p. 212 Lauded as a hero by the Neapolitan court, Nelson was later to dabble in Neapolitan politics and become Duke of Bronté, actions for which he was criticised by his superiors and his reputation suffered.Gardiner, p. 41 British general [[John Moore (British Army officer)|John Moore]], who met Nelson at Naples at this time, described him as "covered with stars, medals and ribbons, more like a Prince of Opera than the Conqueror of the Nile."Padfield, p. 135 Rumours of a battle first appeared in the French press as early as 7 August, although credible reports did not arrive until 26 August, and even these claimed that Nelson was dead and Bonaparte a British prisoner.Germani, p. 56 When the news became certain, the French press insisted that the defeat was the result both of an overwhelmingly large British force and unspecified "traitors." Among the anti-government journals in France, the defeat was blamed on the incompetence of the French Directory and on supposed lingering Royalist sentiments in the Navy.Germani, p. 63 Villeneuve came under scathing attack on his return to France for his failure to support Brueys during the battle. In his defence, he pleaded that the wind had been against him and that Brueys had not issued orders for him to counterattack the British fleet.Mostert, p. 275 The British press were jubilant, many newspapers seeking to portray the battle as a victory for Britain over anarchy, and the success was used to attack the supposedly pro-republican [[Whig (British political party)|Whig]] politicians [[Charles James Fox]] and [[Richard Brinsley Sheridan]].Germani, p. 67 There has been extensive historiographical debate over the comparative strengths of the fleets, although they were ostensibly evenly matched in size, each containing 13 ships of the line.Cole, p. 108 However the loss of ''Culloden'', the sizes of ''Orient'' and ''Leander'' and the participation in the action by two of the French frigates and several smaller vessels, as well as the theoretical strength of the French position, leads to the conclusion that the French were marginally more powerful.Adkins, p. 23 This is accentuated by the weight of broadside of several of the French ships: ''Spartiate'', ''Franklin'', ''Orient'', ''Tonnant'' and ''Guillaume Tell'' were all significantly larger than any individual British ship in the battle. However the French ships were hampered by their inadequate deployment, reduced crews and the failure of the rear division under Villeneuve to meaningfully participate, all of which contributed to their defeat.James, p. 179 ===Effects=== The Battle of the Nile has been called "arguably, the most decisive naval engagement of the great age of sail",Maffeo, p. 272 and "the most splendid and glorious success which the British Navy gained."Clowes, p. 371 The effect on the strategic situation in the Mediterranean was immediate, reversing the balance of the conflict and giving the British control at sea that they maintained for the remainder of the war.Mostert, p. 274 The destruction of the French Mediterranean fleet allowed the Royal Navy to return to the sea in force, British squadrons setting up [[blockade]]s off French and allied ports. In particular, British ships cut Malta off from France, aided by a rebellion among the native Maltese population that forced the French to retreat to Valetta and shut the gates.James, p. 189 The ensuing [[Siege of Malta (1798–1800)|Siege of Malta]] lasted for two years before the defenders were finally starved into surrender.Gardiner, p. 70 In 1799, British ships harassed Bonaparte's army as it marched east and north through [[Palestine]], and played a crucial part in Bonaparte's defeat at the [[Siege of Acre (1799)|Siege of Acre]], when the barges carrying the siege train were captured and the French storming parties were bombarded by British ships anchored offshore.Rose, p. 144 It was during one of these latter engagements that Captain Miller of ''Theseus'' was killed in an ammunition explosion.James, p. 294 The defeat at Acre forced Bonaparte to retreat to Egypt and effectively ended his efforts to carve an empire in the Middle East.Gardiner, p. 62 The French general returned to France without his army late in the year, leaving Kléber in command of Egypt.Chandler, p. 226 The Ottomans, with whom Bonaparte had hoped to conduct an alliance once his control of Egypt was complete, were encouraged by the Battle of the Nile to go to war with France.Rodger, p. 461 This led to a series of campaigns that slowly sapped the strength from the French army trapped in Egypt. Also encouraged by the British victory were the [[Austrian Empire]] and the [[Russian Empire]], both of whom were mustering armies as part of a [[Second Coalition]], which declared war on France in 1799. With the Mediterranean undefended, a Russian fleet entered the [[Ionian Sea]], while Austrian armies recaptured much of the Italian territory lost to Bonaparte in the previous war.Gardiner, p. 14 Without their best general and his veterans, the French suffered a series of defeats and it was not until Bonaparte returned to France and became [[First Consul]] that France once again held a position of strength on mainland Europe.Maffeo, p. 275 In 1801 the demoralised remains of the French army in Egypt were defeated by a British Expeditionary Force and surrendered, the British using their dominance in the Mediterranean to invade Egypt without the fear of ambush while anchored off the Egyptian coast.Gardiner, p. 78 In spite of the overwhelming British victory in the climactic battle, the campaign has sometimes been considered a strategic success for France. Historian [[Edward Ingram (historian)|Edward Ingram]] has noted that if Nelson had successfully intercepted Bonaparte at sea as ordered, the ensuing battle could have annihilated both the French fleet and the transports. As it was, Bonaparte was free to continue the war in the Middle East and later to return to Europe personally unscathed.Ingram, p. 142 The potential of a successful engagement at sea to change the course of history is emphasised by the list of French army officers carried aboard the convoy who later formed the core of the generals and marshals under Emperor Napoleon. In addition to Bonaparte himself, [[Louis Alexandre Berthier]], [[Auguste de Marmont]], [[Jean Lannes]], [[Joachim Murat]], [[Louis Desaix]], [[Jean Reynier]], [[Antoine-François Andréossy]], [[Jean-Andoche Junot]], [[Louis-Nicolas Davout]] and [[Guillaume Mathieu, comte Dumas|Dumas]], as well as Kléber and [[Louis-Marie-Joseph Maximilian Caffarelli du Falga|Caffarelli]] who were to die in Egypt, were all passengers on the cramped Mediterranean crossing.Maffeo, p. 259 ===Legacy=== The Battle of the Nile remains one of the Royal Navy's most famous victories.Jordan & Rogers, p. 216 Since 1798, the Nile has remained prominent in the British popular imagination, sustained by the large number of cartoons, paintings, poems and plays created depicting it.Germani, p. 69 One of the best known poems about the battle is [[Casabianca (poem)|''Casabianca'']], which was written by [[Felicia Dorothea Hemans]] in 1826 and describes a fictional account of the death of Captain Casabianca's son on ''Orient''.{{cite journal |last= Sweet|first= Nanora|authorlink= |coauthors= |year= |month= |title=Hemans, Felicia Dorothea |journal=[[Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]], {{ODNBsub}} |volume= |issue= |pages= |id= |url= |accessdate=21 October 2009 |quote= }} Monuments were raised, including [[Cleopatra's Needle]] in London, which was given by [[Muhammad Ali of Egypt]] in 1819 in recognition of the battle of 1798 and the campaign of 1801 but not erected on the [[Victoria Embankment]] until 1878.Baker, p. 93 Another memorial, the [[Nile Clumps]] near [[Amesbury]], are stands of [[beech]] trees purportedly planted by [[Charles Douglas, 6th Marquess of Queensberry|Lord Queensbury]] at the bequest of Lady Hamilton and [[Sir Thomas Hardy, 1st Baronet|Thomas Hardy]] after Nelson's death.{{cite web|url=|title=Nelson's battlefield: Google Earth finds the forgotten clumps of trees planted as a living map to commemorate Admiral's victory at Battle of the Nile|publisher=''[[Daily Mail]]''|work=|date=2009-04-28|author=David Derbyshire|accessdate=20 October 2009}} The trees form a plan of the battle, each clump representing the position of a British or French ship.{{cite web|url=|title=Battle of the Nile tree clumps pinpointed for visitors by National Trust|publisher=''[[The Daily Telegraph]]''|work=|date=2009-04-27|author=Richard Savill|accessdate=20 October 2009}} A similar arboreal memorial is thought to have been planted near [[Alnwick]] by Nelson's agent [[Alexander Davison]]. In the Royal Navy the battle has been commemorated by the ship names [[HMS Aboukir|HMS ''Aboukir'']] and [[HMS Nile|HMS ''Nile'']].In 1998 the 200th anniversary of the battle was commemorated by a visit to Aboukir Bay by the frigate [[HMS Somerset (F82)|HMS ''Somerset'']], whose crew laid wreaths in memory of those who lost their lives in the battle.{{cite web|url=|title=Decade to mark the naval hero's battles|publisher=[[The News (Portsmouth)|''The News'']]|work=|date=1998|author=Adrian Wills|accessdate=20 October 2009}} Although Nelson's biographer [[Ernle Bradford]] assumed in 1977 that the remains of ''Orient'' "are almost certainly unrecoverable",Bradford, p. 208 the first archaeological investigation into the battle began in 1983, when a French survey team under Jacques Dumas discovered the wreck of ''Orient''. The work was later taken over by [[Franck Goddio]], who led a major project to explore the bay in 1998. He found that material was scattered over an area {{convert|500|m|yd}} in diameter, and in addition to military and nautical equipment recovered a large number of gold and silver coins from countries across the Mediterranean, some from the seventeenth century. It is likely that these were part of the treasure taken from Malta that was lost in the explosion aboard ''Orient''.{{cite web|url=|title=Interview with Franck Goddio, June 28, 1999|publisher=Franck Goddio Society|work=|date=1999-06-28|author=|accessdate=20 October 2009}} In 2000, an excavation focusing on ancient ruins on Nelson's Island under Italian archaeologist Paolo Gallo uncovered a number of graves that date from the battle, as well as others buried there during the 1801 invasion.{{cite web|url=|title=Burials on Nelson's Island|publisher=BBC Home|work=|date=2004-02-15|author=Nick Slope|accessdate=20 October 2009}} These graves, which included a woman and three children, were relocated in 2005 to a cemetery at [[Shatby]] in Alexandria. The reburial was attended by sailors from the modern frigate [[HMS Chatham (F87)|HMS ''Chatham'']] and a band from the [[Egyptian Navy]], as well as a descendant of the only identified burial, Commander James Russell.{{cite web|url=|title=Nelson's troops reburied in Egypt|publisher=BBC News|work=|date=2005-04-14|author=|accessdate=20 October 2009}} ==Notes==
  1. '''[[#inlinea|^]]''' Sources often give casualty figures for the battle that vary significantly: Adkins list British losses as 218 killed and 677 wounded, French as 5,235 killed or missing and 3,305 captured including approximately 1,000 wounded men.Adkins, p. 38 [[William Laird Clowes]] gives precise figures for each British ship, totalling 218 killed and 678 wounded, and quotes French casualty estimates of 2,000 to 5,000, settling on the median average of 3,500.Clowes, p. 370 [[Juan Cole]] gives 218 British dead and French losses of approximately 1,700 dead, a thousand wounded and 3,305 prisoners, most of whom were returned to Alexandria.Cole, p. 109 Robert Gardiner gives British losses as 218 killed and 617 wounded, French as 1,600 killed and 1,500 wounded.Gardiner, p. 39 [[William James (naval historian)|William James]] gives a precise breakdown of British casualties that totals 218 killed and 678 wounded and also quotes estimates of French losses of 2,000 to 5,000, favouring the lower estimate.James, p. 176 [[John Keegan]] gives British losses as 208 killed and 677 wounded and French as several thousand dead and 1,000 wounded.Keegan, p. 66 Steven Maffeo vaguely records 3,000 French casualties and 1,000 British.Maffeo, p. 271 Noel Mostert gives British losses of 218 killed and 678 wounded and quotes estimates of French losses between 2,000 and 5,000.Mostert, p. 2763 Peter Padfield gives British losses of 218 killed and 677 wounded and French as 1,700 killed and approximately 850 wounded.Padfield, p. 132 Digby Smith lists British losses of 218 killed and 678 wounded and French as 2,000 killed, 1,100 wounded and 3,900 captured.Smith, p. 140 [[Oliver Warner]] gives figures of 5,265 French killed or missing, 3,105 taken prisoner and British losses of 218 killed and 677 wounded. It should be noted that almost all of the French prisoners were returned to French-held territory in Egypt during the week following the battle.
  2. '''[[#inlineb|^]]''' The course ''Audacious'' took to reach the battle has been the source of some debate: [[William Laird Clowes]] states that ''Audacious'' passed between ''Guerrier'' and ''Conquerant'' and anchored in the middle. However, a number of maps of the battle show ''Audacious'' rounding the head of the line across ''Guerrier'''s bow before turning back to port between the leading French ships. Most sources, including Warner and James, are vague on the subject and do not state one way or another. The cause of this discrepancy is likely the lack of any significant account or report on the action from Gould. Gould has been criticised for the placement of his ship during the opening stages of the battle, as the ships he attacked were already outnumbered, and the following day he had to be repeatedly ordered to rejoin the battle as it spread southwards despite the lack of damage to his ship. Oliver Warner describes him as "brave enough no doubt, but without imagination, or any sense of what was happening in the battle as a whole."



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