Portal:Egypt/Selected article

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Battle of the Nile, by Thomas Luny, 1834

The Battle of the Nile was a significant naval action fought during 1–3 August 1798. The battle took place in Aboukir Bay, near the mouth of the River Nile on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt and pitted a British fleet of the Royal Navy against a fleet of the French Navy. The battle was the climax of a three-month campaign in the Mediterranean during which a huge French convoy under General Napoleon Bonaparte had sailed from Toulon to Alexandria via Malta. Despite close pursuit by a British fleet of thirteen ships of the line, one fourth rate and a sloop under Sir Horatio Nelson, the French were able to reach Alexandria unscathed and successfully land an army, which Bonaparte led inland. The fleet that had escorted the convoy, consisting of thirteen ships of the line, four frigates and a number of smaller vessels under Vice-Admiral François-Paul Brueys D'Aigalliers, anchored in Aboukir Bay as Alexandria harbour was too narrow, forming a line of battle that was protected by shoals to the north and west.

The almost total destruction of the French fleet reversed the strategic situation in the Mediterranean, giving the Royal Navy control of the sea which it retained until the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815. Nelson and his captains were highly praised and generously rewarded, although Nelson privately complained that his peerage was not senior enough. Bonaparte's army was trapped in the Middle East and Royal Navy dominance played a significant part in its subsequent defeat at the Siege of Acre, Bonaparte himself abandoned the army late in 1799 to return to France and deal with the outbreak of the War of the Second Coalition. Of the captured ships, three were no longer serviceable and were burnt in the bay, and three others were judged fit only for harbour duties owing to the damage they had received in the battle. The remainder enjoyed long and successful service careers in the Royal Navy; two subsequently served at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.