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French Plans of the Battle of the Nile, 1798

Posted by Sam Willis, on May 17th, 2013


This collection of maps details the movements of both the British and French fleets during the Battle of the Nile (1798). They offer a visual insight into the procedure of the battle, from a valuable French perspective.

1798 was a pivotal year in the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1802). Intent on weakening British access to India, Napoleon led a large force through the Mediterranean towards Egypt. A British naval force under Nelson hunted the French for almost three months, before finding the fleet at Aboukir Bay on 1 August. The resulting battle was a decisive British victory, cited as securing a control of the European seas that Britain would retain for the remainder of the war.

These three surviving maps (of four) were included with a French account of the battle. The first map shows the French at anchor in the bay, and shows the location’s geographic features. This position enabled a British contingent to attack from inshore.

The second map shows the fleets after the British, divided into two lines, surrounded the French in a crossfire. The third map shows the result of evasive action taken after the French flagship, L’Orient, exploded.

Such diagrams clearly show the effective tactics used by the British in this, the turning point of the Mediterranean campaign.


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