Saturday, November 10, 2007

Commissary Chides Bureaucrat for Neglecting Egyptian Hospital

From: Copies of original letters from the army of General Bonaparte in Egypt, intercepted by the fleet under the command of Admiral Lord Nelson. With an English translation (London, J. Wright, 1798-1800, 3 vols.), vol. 1, pp. 176-177.


Rosetta, August 1st.

DUVAL, Commissary of War, to the Citizen TRIPIER, Agent for the Hospitals, &c.

IS it not a wonderful thing, Citizen, that for near a month, during which the hospital has now been established at Rosetta, you should have neglected it to a degree which is absolutely unpardonable. No straw beds, no chamber utensils, no medicines, no linen for dressings; in a word, a total want of every thing and the sick in a state of the utmost distress.

You will hardly allege, I fancy, that you are without means--for in the first place, you have so much a decade to supply all the wants of the service; and, in the second, you have the transport No. 47, which has on board necessaries of every kind for a hospital of more than a thousand sick; add to these, the general magazine which is established at Alexandria.

I summon you then, Citizen, on your responsibility, to send me, without the smallest delay, every thing necessary, linen, &c. as well as medicines, for a hospital of four hundred sick.

I will take care to give an account of your negligence to the First Commissary; as well as to the Commander in Chief; and especially if you shew the least remissness in sending me what I write for.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1)This letter was written on the morning of the first August, previous to the engagement; it furnishes, as the reader sees, another instance of the regard to truth which Bonaparte displays in his public dispatches. "We have not a man sick," says this veracious Chief, in which he is followed as usual by Berthier: and yet we find 400 perishing for want of necessaries at Rosetta! a place reached with little fatigue, entered without striking a blow, kept with no other precautions than strict police, and supposed to be the healthiest spot in Egypt!

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