Friday, October 5, 2007

British Intercept Detailed Data on Size of French Force

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. 2, pp. 192-197.

OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS, inclosed in Rear Admiral GANTEAUME’S Dispatches to the Generals commanding the Land and Sea Forces, at Malta.

No. 1

Muster-Roll of the Crews on board the Vessels, composing the divison in the Port of Alexandria, taken on the 26th of August, 1798.


Number of Men.
Le Causse - - 608
Le Dubois - - 581
La Courageuse - - 334
La Junon - - 368
Le Meuiron - - 293
Le Cazzero - - 228
L’Alceste - - 278
Le Montenotte - - 304
Le Leoben - - 258
La Mantoue - - 201

Number of Men
Corvettes.—Le Rivoly - 81
Salamine - 126
Alerte - 82
Lody - 102
Gun-Boats.—La Portugaise 103
Oranger 88
Aglae 102
Packets, or La Foudre 69
Sloops Of War
Negresse 75
Chasseur 94
Independent 48
Vif 60
Chien de Chasse 65
Galley.—La Victorie 400
Alexandria (14 Fructidor),
August 31st, 1798
Rear Admiral


List of Vessels composing the Flotilla of the Nile, under the Command of Rear Admiral PERRE’E.

Le Chebec, Le Cerf.
Le Demi Chebec, La Revanche.


La Capricieuse
Sans Quartier.
Demi Galley. (Name not known.)
La Coquette.


La Victoire.

The muster-rolls of the crews of the vessels above mentioned are not come to hand.


Number of Seamen composing the Crews of the Transports, now at Anchor in the Port of Alexandria, under the Command of the Chief of Division, DUMANOIR LE PELLEY.

Number of Men
Toulon Transports - - 533
Marseilles - do. - - 569
Ajaccio - do. - - 185
Genes - do - - 995
Civita Vechia - - 735

Copied at the Office of the Majority of Rear-admiral Ganteame, September 2d 1798.

Examined, H. GANTEAUME.

[British Translators' Notes]

These DOCUMENTS are of a most curious and important nature. They enable us to complete, in some measure, the estimate of the numbers sacrificed in this insane and wicked expedition.

In the First Part we reckoned the land forces at 42,000; and this, we are persuaded, was rather under than over the amount. In the French papers we find them estimated differently, i.e. “Desaix’s division, composed of three demi-brigades; Kleber’s id. ; Menou’s, id; Bon’s, id.; and Regnier’s of two; forming in all fourteen demi-brigades; of which four of light infantry, and ten of the line. Each demi-brigade consists of 2400 men; total of infantry, therefore, 33,600. The cavalry, commanded by Damas, consists of one regiment of hussars, one of chasseurs, and three of dragoons; total 3,000,--making altogether 36,600.” But this is evidently under-rater, we shall, therefore, adopt our first number, 42,000.

The sea forces, as appears from the certificate of the French Commissaries, delivered to Admiral Lord Nelson, on the fifth of August, amounted to 10,710. In this the crews of the gunboats are not included, we shall, therefore, take them at 300.

On board the ships of the line, frigates, and smaller vessels of war, in the port of Alexandria, there are, according to the Schedule (No. 1.), 4,948. On the flotilla of the Nile (No. 2.), averaging the crews at a hundred each, 1,500,--and in the different trans ports in the port of Alexandria (No. 3.), 3,017. If then we recapitulate those numbers,--

Land forces 42,000
Sea ditto 21,010
Ships, &c. at Alexandria 4,948
Flotilla on the Nile 1,500
Transports 3,017

We shall have a sum which, we believe, will not be far from the truth.

There are yet, however, to be added, the swarms of speculators, purchasers of plunder, robbers, as Avrieury justly calls them (see the preceding letter) which, like vultures, always follow the desolating track of a French army; before the reader can accurately appreciate the whole number vomited forth by France on this unhappy country.

Disburthened Europe, while she condoles with Egypt on the visitation of this eleventh, and worst plague, may yet congratulate herself on its having at length removed from her wasted and bleeding realms.—Nor need she fear its return. Scarce and individual of those numerous thousands has yet reached France; and few indeed, and scanty, will be their future arrivals!—The directory have obtained their end: they are happy usque ad delicias votorum; and we sincerely [facilitate] them, and the civilized world in general, on the probably extinction of a horde of turbulent and cruel assassins!

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