« 前へ次へ »
country, the Commander-in-Chief had only a choice of difficulties. Whether to commence hostilities against Alexandria, or leaving it to the last, proceed up the country to attack the army there, was a question of much moment, and anxious consideration. Although the result demonstrated how easy it was to conquer Upper Egypt, that was not known to General Hutchinson, who had to oppose a greater force than he expected. In his dispatches previously to his immediate approach to Cairo, he states his belief that there were not more than 6000 troops of all kinds in the town, whereas the numbers exceeded 13,000, of whom 10,850 were French. But, as I have already said, Cairo was taken on the 21st of March, and so was Alexandria: as it was found that nothing was required for the completion of every object for which the expedition had been originally undertaken but to make such an attack as would, by its boldness, and the strength of the force brought forward, enable General Menou to make an honourable defence, and to show that his surrender would not sully the glory of the French arms.*
* Early in July, the British army was reinforced from England and Minorca by the 22d dragoons, a detachment of Guards, two battalions of the 20th foot, the 24th, 25th, 26th, and 27th regiments, the Ancient Irish Fencibles, and the foreign regiments of Watteville's and Chasseur* Britanniques. The Irish Fencibles were enlisted for European service only, and were ordered from Ireland to Minorca, where they were quartered in 1801. When more troops were required in Egypt, this regiment was treated in the same manner as at different times the Highland regiments had been, and, without regard to their terms of service, was ordered to embark for Africa. The men complained, and stated the nature of their engagement, but to no purpose; and, being less refractory than the Highlanders had showed themselves in similar circumstances, they embarked, though reluctantly. However, when they found themselves fairly landed in Egypt, and were ordered to march forward from the beach to join the army before Alexandria, making a virtue of necessity, and with characteristic good humour, they pulled off their hats, and, with three cheers, cried out, "We will volunteer now." My countrymen, in the days of their spirited independence, would not have yielded so readily, and would have been in no humour to sport their jokes on such an occasion.
VOL. I. 2 H
When the army had returned from Cairo, and the necessary preparations had been made, General Hutchinson proceeded to the investment of Alexandria; and detaching General Coote, with nearly half the army, to the westward of the town, he himself advanced from the eastward. In this manner, General Menou, finding himself surrounded on two sides by an enemy 14,500 strong,* by the sea on the north, cut off from the country by the newly-formed lake f on the south, and already forced to subsist his troops on horse flesh, could delay a surrender only for the sake of effect. In the meantime, the French general played his part well, and every advance was disputed, until the evening of the 26th of August, when he demanded an armistice for three days, to afford time to form conditions of capitulation. The armistice was agreed to; and, on the 2d of September, the capitulation was signed, and ratified by the respective commanders.
In these short but conclusive movements, little occurred
The whole proceeded from a mistake in the nature of the engagement on which these men were to serve. The order to embark them from Minorca must, however, have been clear and positive; otherwise General Fox, who commanded there, and whose mildness of disposition, and high sense of honour and probity, are so well known, would never have countenanced any breach of engagement.
• The army from India had not yet descended the Nile.
f When General Hutchinson marched for Cairo, leaving General Coote to blockade Alexandria, the latter officer, wishing to strengthen his position, and lessen the line of blockade, availed himself of the natural formation of the country, and of a valley running upwards of forty miles to the westward. The bottom was under the level of the sea, which, as I have already stated, was only prevented running into it by the dike, on which the water was carried by a canal from the Nile to Alexandria. He directed four cuts of six yards in breadth, to be made in the dike, and the cut ten yards asunder. When the fascines which protected the workmen were removed, the water rushed in with a fall of nearly seven feet, and with such force, that all the cuts were soon washed away; and although the whole breach widened to the extent of 300 feet, it was nearly a month before the valley was filled, and the water found its level. Indeed, there was always a considerable current running westward, the evaporation in that scorching climate requiring a constant supply.
worthy of notice beyond what was to be expected when one army was pushing another to an ultimate surrender, except a very spirited affair, in which the Myth regiment, under Lieutenant-Colonel Lockhart, displayed its gallantry and discipline. It was low in numbers, and did not exceed 180 men. On the 16th of August, being on duty in the trenches to cover the workmen, while constructing an advanced battery on a piece of ground covered with white sparkling sand, which the soldiers jocularly called the " Green Hill," a column of 600 of the enemy appeared on the left, as if they intended to attack and destroy the new battery. Colonel Lockhart immediately suggested to Colonel Brent Spencer, who commanded the advance, the propriety of marching out to meet and attack this party instead of waiting for them in the trenches. To this the latter consented, and immediately ordered the 30th out of the trenches, where they lay sheltered from a smart fire which was kept up on the battery. They were hardly formed before the enemy had reached the brow of the hill, covered with showers of round and grape shot from all their batteries. They were immediately charged by the 30th, and totally routed, with the loss of upwards of 100 men left behind killed or wounded, and several prisoners. As Colonel Lockhart advanced with spirit, so he retired with judgment. Seeing a large body of the enemy in reserve, as a second line to their first, who opened a heavy fire upon his party, he immediately drew them off, as a farther attack on this reserve was not necessary, and to remain under the fire of the batteries would have only been a sacrifice of his memo
This little exploit was performed at mid-day in presence of the whole army, who witnessed this striking proof of the good effects of closing upon an enemy with energy and aiarity, instead of waiting to be attacked. Had Colonel Lockhart, with his inferior numbers, stood to receive the attack of the enemy, thinned as he must have been while thus exposed to the heavy fire from the batteries, the result would have been doubtful; but he trusted to the bayonet, which, in a steady hand, will never fail to be decisive. •
* This attack was made under the immediate observation of General Menou, who, it is said, upbraided his troops for permitting these works to proceed with impunity. A party was immediately selected or volunteered to destroy them; but the attempt, as has been seen, was not made with impunity, and the works proceeded without farther interruption.
Equally problematical would have been the safety and success of the Highlanders on the 21st of March, had they trusted to their fire alone, and stood still to receive the charge of the enemy on the left of the redoubt. But, converting a defence into an attack, they rushed forward in the face of the enemy, who were advancing in full charge; and although the Highlanders suffered when the cavalry charged through the intervals occasioned by the attacks of the infantry, there is little doubt that, if they had stood still, and had not rushed upon the enemy, the loss would have been much more considerable.
The proceedings against Alexandria shewed to what I pitch of perfection the British artillery had arrived. The battery which had been so bravely protected by the 30th regiment was finished on the evening of the 25th of August; and although an irregular fire was kept up on the working parties from the surrounding batteries of the enemy, the works were little interrupted, the fire being so ill directed that only one man (a soldier of the 90th) was killed. Very different was the effect of the fire from the battery on the
• General Hutchinson, noticing this circumstance in his dispatches, forgot to mention, that, although Colonel Spencer was present, and ordered the charge, he was under the command of Brigadier-General Doyle, who was close in the rear at the time, and who had left his sick-room at Rosetta to command his brigade the moment he heard of the msnrasnent in advance; and,on his representing these circumstances. General Hutchinson most readily corrected his omission in the subsequent dispatcher The truth was, the thing of itself was of no importance. Any real merit belonged to Colonel Lockbart, who proposed and executed the exploit, and who was so gallantly supported by his officers and men.
•' Green Hill," which opened at six o'clock in the morning of the 26th. Before mid-day, the enemy were completely silenced, their batteries destroyed, and the guns withdrawn. On the west of Alexandria, the tower of Marabou was bombarded from a battery commanded by Captain Curry of the Royal Artillery. The first shot struck the tower four feet from the ground; every succeeding shot struck the same spot, and in this manner he continued, never missing his mark, till a large hole was in a manner bored completely through, when the building fell, and filling up the surrounding ditch, the place was instantly surrendered.
The expedition being brought to this fortunate conclusion, immediate preparations were made for embarkation. The French were first embarked, and sailed for France.
State of the Numbers of both Armies.
Garrison of Cairo, including 1000 auxiliary troops, 13,674 Garrison of Alexandria, including marines doing
duty, ... . 10,308
Prisoners taken on different occasions, - 3,500
Killed and died of wounds in the different actions, 3,000 Soldiers dead by sickness since the 8th of March, 1,500
Total in arms, deducting 2000 in hospital when
the British landed, - - 31,982
Civil establishment, - - . - .