Battle of the Nile
The 1st of August 1798 AD
The Battle of the Nile proved one of the most significant encounters in the long-running wars between Britain and France. Napoleon had determined on the invasion of Egypt with a view to damaging British power and prestige in the Mediterranean and eventually as far as India. Nelson’s victory over Admiral Brueys at the Bay of Aboukir was comprehensive and far-reaching: the French army recently landed at Alexandria was nullified; British naval power was confirmed, stiffening the resolve of both the Ottoman Empire and Russia; Napoleon would never carve out a Middle East empire.
Nelson ’s fleet and that of his opponent were roughly equal in numbers of ships, though the French slightly out-gunned the British. But Brueys made several fatal errors of judgement: his ships were taken by surprise, undergoing repairs and re-victualling and with many crewmen ashore; he wrongly thought Nelson intended to wait until the next day to attack; his line was too spread apart, allowing British ships to pierce it; and Nelson’s ships managed to catch their enemy in a cross-fire.
The outcome was near annihilation of Napoleon’s fleet: the Royal Navy didn’t lose one vessel whereas four French ships were destroyed – one, the flagship Orient, blown to smithereens – and nine captured. British dead numbered roughly 200, the French thousands including Admiral Brueys. Nelson suffered a bloody but superficial head wound, but his reputation was hugely enhanced and he was swiftly given a peerage.
More famous dates here
4437 views since 12th January 2011
On this day: