Today in Middle Eastern history: the Battle of Abukir (1799)

Napoleon’s chances for a successful Middle Eastern campaign ended shortly after that campaign began, at the Battle of the Nile in early August 1798. We’ll talk about that battle and its repercussions later. But from Napoleon’s perspective, the British victory at the Battle of the Nile meant that he could no longer rely on offshore French gunboats to support his progress into the Levant and he could no longer count on resupply from France (via Malta) to sustain his army. The former proved decisive during the Siege of Acre in May 1799, when the lack of French seaborne artillery allowed the city’s defenders time to bolster their defenses and to bring in reinforcements while Napoleon waited (and waited) for his big guns to finally arrive overland.

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