Sunday, December 16, 2007

Bonaparte Writes Ottoman Grand Vizier

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. 3, pp. 171-178


Of a Letter from BONAPARTE to the GRAND VIZIER, dated 4, 1213 (Mahometan Era).


THE object of the present letter, addressed to Your Excellency, and transmitted by the hands of the Effendi made prisoner at Aboukir, is to furnish you with a faithful view of the state of things in Arabia; and, by putting an end to the war which has taken place between the Sublime Porte and the French Republic, to give peace to those two powers.

Alas! Why, after having been friends for so many years, do they now find themselves at war? Is it because the boundaries of the two States are so distant from each other that they fight? Is it because the Courts of Germany and Russia border on the territories of the Sublime Porte that they have united themselves with it?

Your Excellency cannot be ignorant that the French Nation, without exception, is extremely attached to the Sublime Porte. Endowed as Your Excellency is with the most distinguished talents, and acquainted with the real interests of Courts, can it have escaped you that the Russians and Austrians have conspired, once for all, against the Sublime Porte, and that the French, on the contrary, are using every possible effort to counteract their wicked designs? Your Excellency knows that the Russians are the enemies of the Mussulman Faith, and that Paul the Third(2), Emperor of Russia, as Grand Master of Malta, that is to say, Chief Knight, has solemnly sworn enmity to the Mussulmen. The French have abolished the Order of Malta, given liberty to the Mahometan Prisoners detained there, and have the same belief as themselves, that “There is no God but the true God(3).” It is then very strange that the Sublime Porte should declare war on the French, its real and sincere friends; and contract alliances with the Russians and the Germans, its declared enemies.

When the French were necessarily of the sect of the Messiah, they were the friends of the Sublime Porte; now, that they are, as it were, united by the same religion, that Power declares war against them(4)!! The Courts of England and Russia have led the Sublime Porte into an error. We had informed It by letters of our intended expedition into Arabia; but those Courts found means to intercept and conceal our papers(5); and, as if I had not proved to the Sublime Porte that the French Republic, far from wishing to deprive it of its domains, had not even the smallest intention of making war on it; His Most Glorious Majesty, Sultan Selim, gave credit to the English, and conceived an aversion for the French, his ancient friends. Is not the kind treatment which the ships of war and merchantmen belonging to the Sublime Porte, in the different ports of Arabia, experienced at my hands, a sufficient proof of the extreme desire, and love of the French Republic, for peace and amity? The Sublime Porte, without waiting for the arrival of the French Minister Descorches, who had already left France for Constantinople, and, without inquiring what were the motives for my conduct, declared war against the French, with the most unaccountable precipitation(6). Although I was informed of this war, I dispatched Beauchamp, Consul of the Republic in the Caravel, in full confidence of terminating it; and while I was expecting the answer of the Sublime Porte, by the same conveyance, I found that he had been thrown into prison, and Turkish troops dispatched to Gaza, with orders to take possession of Arabia.

Upon this I thought it more advisable to make war there than in the territory of Egypt; and I was obliged, in spite of myself, to cross the Desert.

Although my army is as innumerable as the sands of the sea(7), full of courage, inured to war in the highest degree, and victorious; although it is completely provided with every thing of which it can stand in need; though I have castles and fortresses of prodigious strength, and though the center, and the extremities of the Desert are fortified by batteries of cannon; although I have no fear nor apprehension of any kind, though I have no precautions to take, and that it is impossible for me to be overcome; nevertheless, out of commiseration for the human race, respect for those honourable ways of proceeding which are respected by all nations, and, above all, out of a desire to be re-united with the first and truest of our allies, His Most Glorious Majesty Sultan Selim, I now make manifest my disposition for peace. It is certain that the Sublime Porte can never realize its wishes by force of arms, and that its happiness can only be effectual by a pacific conduct. Whatever armies may march against Cairo, I can repulse them all.—And yet I will facilitate, as much as possible, every proposition which shall be made me tending to peace. The instant the Sublime Porte shall have detached itself from our enemies, the Russians and the English; there cannot be a doubt but that the French Republic will renew and re-establish, in the completest manner, the bases of peace and friendship with the Sublime Porte.

It will be better for you to cease your exertions in forming armies, and amazing provisions and warlike stores to no purpose. Your enemy is not in Arabia. He is in Bulgaria, at Corfou, and, by your mistaken policy, in the heart of the Mediterranean. Augment the number of your ships, put them in good order, and form a corps of able cannoniers. Let not the sacred banner of the Prophet be displayed against the French, but prepare yourselves to make use of it against the Germans and Russians, who, after smiling at the rupture, which has so inconsiderately and imprudently taken place between us, will suddenly raise their heads, and, with a loud and piercing cry, offer you the most burthensome propositions.

If you wish to have Egypt—tell me so. France has never entertained an idea of taking it out of the hands of the Sublime Porte, and swallowing it up. Give authority to your Minister, who is at Paris, or send some one to Egypt, with full and unlimited powers, and all shall be arranged without animosity, and to your wish.

Enter upon the way that will enable you to take vengeance of your enemies. Labour to consolidate and strengthen the foundations of the Ottoman Empire. Employ all your influence to prevent the acceptance of the propositions which will be made to you by your enemies, as well as to turn aside the terrible and destructive projects which they may unhappily have set on foot at this moment. Having had, during the past, so many motives to abhor the Russians, is it wise to abandon the Black Sea to them, and not rather to exact vengeance? Say but a single word on this last head, and I will exert myself for your advantage. The French army is by no means desirous of convincing the Ottoman forces of its discipline and courage; it would rather unite with them to punish their common enemy.

If Your Excellency, to whom I have addressed my wishes in this letter, will send for M. Beauchamp, who is on the Black Sea, and question him on the subject, I am persuaded you will abandon the unfavourable opinion you now have of me. If it depended on my exertions, the day on which I should be able to extinguish the flames of a war so absurd and so unbecoming both parties would be reckoned by me as the most happy of my life.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1)There are two copies of this curious State Paper. The one, faithfully translated from the Arabic by the Turkish Government, and transmitted from Constantinople; the other, loosely, but elegantly rendered from the same original by the French; and found amongst the Intercepted Papers.

Both are here given: but the first only is translated, as being infinitely more to be relied on than that so elaborately framed at Cairo, and expressly calculated for the meridian of Paris. The general tenor, however, of both is the same: and incidental variation or two will be noticed.

To remark upon the particular points of this paper would be endless. Whoever sits down to peruse it must prepare himself for all that ignorance, blasphemy, meanness and hypocrisy—all that misrepresentations, defeating its own purpose, and falsehood, so gross as to be felt, can suggest to a contracted and restless mind, incapable of directing any scheme of policy. Yet presumptuously venturing upon all.

(2)This Paul the Third is an Emperor of Bonaparte’s own creation. Since the French laid aside the Red Book, they have fallen into strange errors! One of their profound Legislators lately exclaimed, amidst the shouts of the admiring Senate: “What! Francis the First dare to brave the anger of the Great Nation! Well, he shall be Francis the Last!!!”

But how must the Grand Vizier (acquainted, as Bonaparte says he is, with the interests of Courts, and who must be supposed to be so, in some degree, whether he had said it or not how must he have smiled, with mingled pity and contempt, at the sottish stupidity, the whining and hypocritical cant of the person to whom the interests of a powerful nation were entrusted!

(3)A sentence taken from the Coran. In the original it is properly marked as a quotation.

(4)This precious sentiment is thus expressed in the intercepted translation: “So then, the Sublime Porte, which was the friend of France while she was a Christian Nation, has declared war against her, the instant she adopted, as it were, the Mussulman Faith!”

(5)This assertion is positively contradicted by Kleber: who labours to excuse the French Government to the Porte, for the omission of this information, by alleging the necessity of secrecy as to the object of the armament.

Kleber had Bonaparte’s letter before him when he introduced this remarkable deviation from it. What must have been that general’s opinion—what must now be the opinion of the world, of its veracity.

(6)The drudgery of remarking on this effusion of folly and wickedness in inconceivable. In consequence of the just indignation of the Porte at the invasion of Egypt, Descorches was dispatched to inform it of the amicable intentions of France in this act of unprovoked hostility. Yet Bonaparte has the stupid insolence to make the crime of the Porte to be, the not waiting for Descorche’s arrival!!!

(7)It is but just to observe, that there is a considerable variation in the sense of the corresponding passages in this and the intercepted copy. That says—“My army is strong, perfectly disciplined, and amply provided with every thing that can render it victorious over your armies, though they be as innumerable as the sands of the sea.” Whether this qui-pro-quo arises from the imperfect wording of the Arabic, or from an idea in Bonaparte, that the original rhodomontade was too extravagant for France, cannot be told. The Turks could have no temptation to exaggerate the absurdity of this matchless production. Enough remained, though this boast had been withdrawn, to provoke the bitter smile of the Ottoman Court. But what must have been the sensations of the Grand-Vizier, when he heard Bonaparte vaunt of the ample manner in which his army was supplied, when (As it appears from Kleber) he well knew it to be perishing with want; or of his being invincible, when the whole of his (the Vizier’s) long march, from Damascus to Gaza, had been over the mangled carcasses of the French, whom the General had left to the hyeanas of Syria, in his hasty and disgraceful flight.

With this observation this letter is left to the scorn of the world.

The English reader, when he compares it with BONAPARTE’S parting instructions to KLEBER, will not fail to be struck with the sincerity of an overture, which is not followed up at all except 1500 Frenchmen shall have died of the plague, in which, in that case, is to be followed up only by a negociation SURELY TO GAIN TIME.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Officer Descibres Desperate Situation in Egypt

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. 3, pp. 156-160



Cairo, October 13, 1799.

DOGUA(1), General of Division, to Citizen BARRAS, Director.

Citizen Director,

I HAVE written several letters to you since the arrival of the army in Egypt; I know not if any of them have reached you; very few private letters have arrived at the place of their destination(2).

I mentioned to you, in some of these letters, that I was exceedingly anxious to return to France; but this anxiety was subordinate to the desire of returning there in a flattering manner, and not with an air of having quitted the army through disgust or fickleness; or through fear, either of the plague, or of the numerous enemies, Ruffians, English, Turks, Arabs, and Mameloucs, which threaten Egypt in four or five different points—Alexandria, El Arisch, the Red Sea, and the Desert.

I seize the opportunity of your cousin’s return, to give you a few details respecting our actually situation, which, perhaps, has not yet been set before you in its true light. I had the command of two thirds of Egypt during the expeditions of Syria and Aboukir. I KNOW its produce, its resources, the strength of the places, which some people call fortresses, the roads by which they may be avoided, the disposition of the inhabitants, the state of the army, of the arsenals and the magazines, and the finances. I am about to present you with a rapid sketch of all these various objects; and you will then be enabled to judge if it be not absolutely indispensable for Government to come to our immediate assistance.

I shall say but little to you on the departure of the General. It was only communicated to those who were to accompany him. It was precipitated. The army was thirteen days without a Commander in Chief. There was not a sous in any of the military chests; no part of the service arranged; the enemy scarce retired from Aboukir was still before Damietta. Such was our situation at Cairo from the 18th of August to the 30th.

I confess to you, Citizen Director, that I could never have believed General Bonaparte would have abandoned us in the condition in which we were; without money, without powder, without ball, and one part of the soldiers without arms. Alexandria is a vast intrenched camp, which the expedition into Syria has deprived of a considerable portion of the heavy artillery necessary for its defence. Lesbe, near Damietta, is scarcely walled in; part of the wall of El Arisch is tumbling of itself. Debts to an enormous amount; more than a third of the army destroyed by the plague, the dysentery, by opthalmia, and by the war; that which remains almost naked, and the enemy but eight days march from us! Whatever may be told you at Paris, this description is but too true. You know me to be incapable of imposing on you by a false one.

A numerous army is assembling in Syria; fleets of which we know not the strength, threaten our coasts, which we know to be accessible in many places. The Commander in Chief cannot bring together more than 7000 fighting men; the enemy have it in their power to make three separate attacks at the same time—what can 7000 men (and those necessarily divided) hope to do?

We have against us the Mussulman fanaticism, which cannot be softened or diminished; the idea of a Christian government is a real torment for the people. The severest examples do not prevent the country people from rising against us at least report to our disadvantage, or at the most insignificant sirman dispersed against us.

The country, however, is very fine; the possession of it may be useful to the Republic in many points of view. The productions of every quarter of the globe may be raised here. If these advantages determine the Government to exert itself to preserve Egypt, there is not a moment to lose; men, arms, powder, lead, cannon-balls, &c. &c. must be sent us without the smallest delay.

If the Government cannot succour us, if it cannot appease the Ottoman Court, and recall it to its true interests; if, in short, we are abandoned here to ourselves, compelled to continue fighting, one against ten, to struggle with the most cruel maladies, all that France will ever see again of the “Army of Egypt,” will be the maimed and the blind, if the Turks should have the humanity to send them back. The rest will perish here, exhausted by their fatigues and their victories!

I repeat my solemn assurances, Citizen Director, that what you have just read is the most exact truth. A thousand reasons may have prevented its being hitherto fairly laid before you. I have done it, because I persuade myself that I could not have given you a more convincing proof of my sincere attachment; and because I owe these details of the “Army of Egypt” to the Government and to my country.

Health and respect.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1)Though last not least. If there be yet any doubts of the falsehood, incompetence, and unfeeling barbarity of Bonaparte, this excellent letter must effectually remove them. It is written by an officer high in command, confident in his knowledge, and appealing without hesitation to his established character for the credit of facts which Bonaparte will now find it impossible to palliate or deny.

(2)This alludes to a circumstance frequently hinted at in the course of this Correspondence. A very general persuasion prevailed in the army, that the letters of individuals were examined by Bonaparte’s orders; and, if found hostile to his views, kept back and destroyed.

A suspicion of this nature can neither be proved nor disproved here; indeed it so happens, that it is of no consequence either way, since the belief that he was capable of such a crime does him as little honour as the actual commission of it.

For the rest, it is needless to call the reader’s attention to slight remarks from the perusal of this most important document. It contradicts the General’s statements in every point, and that with a boldness derived from superior knowledge and truth: it arraigns the base and cowardly desertion of his army in terms strong and manly indignation; and it speaks of the sufferings and despair of that deserted army in a manner that, if there be one spark of feeling, one sentiment of honour yet left in France, will produce a cry of universal indignation and horror, and drive the “IDOL OF A FORTNIGHT” from his imaginary throne.

Monday, December 10, 2007

General Describes Deteriorating Condition of the Army

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. 3, pp. 95-99.




Head Quarters, Cairo, October 11, 1799.

DAMAS(1), General of Division, Chief of the Staff, General of the Army, to the MINISTER OF WAR.

I HAVE the honour of transmitting you, Citizen Minister, the Proclamation of General Bonaparte to the army on taking leave of it; and that of General Kleber on taking upon him the Command in Chief:

Also the orders of the day, and the four numbers of the Courier d’Egypte, which have appeared since that period:

The list of the general, staff, and commissioned officers of the different corps, who have died, up to this day:

The list of the promotions which Kleber, the Commander in Chief, has judged it indispensable to make for the good of the service.

The list of the general, staff, and commissioned officers of the different corps, who have died, up to this day:

The list of the promotions which Kleber, the Commander in Chief, has judged it indispensable to make for the good of the service. You will feel yourself the necessity of it in comparing those two lifts(2).

I entreat you, Citizen Minister, to request the Executive Directory to confirm these promotions, and to transmit me the definitive nominations.

I cannot send you a detailed estimate of the general situation of the army at present; because, when I took upon me the function of Chief of the Staff, I was not able to find the particular estimates from which it must necessarily be formed. I hope to be enabled to transmit it by the first courier.

It is also out of my power, at this moment, to collect those of the various corps of the army, scattered as they are over so prodigious an extent of country as that which we have to defend; and of whom the greater number are, besides, incessantly occupied in pursuing the Arabs, or in combating the wandering Beys and their partisans, whose numbers rapidly increase the instant we allow them a moment’s respite.

You may judge of the feeble state of the army, by its prodigious reduction since this time last year.

The number of effective men on the 22d of September 1798 was above 33,000(3); it is at present reduced below 22,000: from these must be taken 2000 sick and wounded, who are absolutely incapable of any duty whatever; besides 4000 utterly unable to take the field, or enter upon any active service. Most of these, though wounded, or labouring under diseases of the eyes, prefer staying at their quarters, to exposing themselves to the epidemic complaints which hospitals but too frequently generate in this country.

It results from this comparative statement, that the effective strength of the army is reduced a third within the last twelve months, and the actual number of those under arms decreased a full half.

The 16,000 men (comprising the forces of every description) which compose the army, are dispersed over a surface of country comprised within a triangle, of which the base extends from Marabout(4) to El Arisch, a line of near two hundred leagues, which is also the length of its two sides, of which that from El Arisch reaches beyond the first Cataracts (which may be considered as its apex), and the other from the Cataracts again to Marabout.

Experience fully proves, Citizen Minister, at this instant, that when the garrisons indispensably necessary for the security of the fortresses and the provinces are deducted form the number of men capable of bearing arms, it will be impossible to collect a force of 7000 men at any one point, to oppose the efforts of an enemy which menaces us with an irruption on every side.

I presume that the Commander in Chief, when writing to the Executive Directory, gave them more circumstantial information respecting the situation of the army, and every part of the colony.

Health and respect.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1)Damas has already appeared in the First Part of the Intercepted Correspondence. See his letter (p. 76), and what is there said of him. Though there seem to be a great degree intimacy between him and Kleber, yet he probably owes his advancement to the head of the Staff no less to his own merit than to the kindness of the Commander in Chief. He is, indeed, a very excellent officer.

(2)It has been judged proper to omit them both—the necessity of Kleber’s promotions is but too apparent form his own letter.

(3)In estimating the army that disembarked in Egypt as 42,000 (see the Second Part of the Intercepted Correspondence, p. 196), it is evident that no deception was practiced, no turn for exaggeration indulged. Even after the storming, as it is called, of Alexandria, a place so strong, that, according to Sonnini, the jackals used to leap in and out every night through the breaches in the walls, the numbers lost in crossing the Desert of the Nile, the bloody engagement on that river, and the numerous skirmishes which Bonaparte has dignified with the name of the Battles of the Pyramids, &c. &c. it appears that the effective force of the French still consisted of 33,000 men; a calculation that leave a deficit of 9000 for the sick (who appear, from Duval’s letter, Part I. P. 176, to be very numerous), the killed, and the wounded, in the short space of fifteen weeks! It is probable that none of Bonaparte’s admirers will be intrepid enough to deny this loss. But then, they will say, he acquired possession of the country by it. This may be granted them in their turn; and then it will only remain to inquire whether the loss of the 33,000 men that were left, and which is sure to be sustained in the evacuation of it, will not rather overbalance that boasted advantage?

(4)A small bay, a little to the south-west of Alexandria, where the French first landed.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Commissary Urges Negotiations with the British

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. 3, pp. 88-91.



E. POUSSIELGUE(1), Comptroller of the Expences of the Army, and Administrator-general of the Finances of Egypt, to Citizen MERLIN, Memmber of the Executive Directory.

Citizen Director,

SINCE the delivery to Citizen Barras of the first dispatch which I had the honour to address to you, the particular conferences which have taken place with the Effendi, who is returned from Damascus, have afforded us, notwithstanding the letter of the Grand Vizier, some glimpses of a plan of accommodating matters, which may, in its consequences, become extremely important for the Republic; its final success, however, depends entirely on the part which the English may think proper to take in it.

General Kleber is now engaged in arranging for the Directory the notes which contain the substance of the conference. To me it is evident that the Grand Vizier would be disposed to do every thing we could wish; if he were not afraid that the instant his communications with us were discovered, Ruffia would suddenly fall upon the Ottoman Empire, which is at this time in no state of defence. But, if the Porte were sure of a powerful alliance, which would support her feeble efforts at the outset, and finally render her victorious, she would not hesitate an instant in forming her resolution. After all, these measures, as I have already said, cannot be put in execution unless the English become a party in them, and unite with the Porte and with us.

Now as the French Republic has nothing to apprehend from the English, which is not trifling when compared with the losses she must inevitably sustain from the establishment of the Ruffians in the Mediterranean; as there is not a chance of recovering from the English any part of what they have taken from us during the present war, but by an immediate treaty, which should hold out to them equivalent advantages elsewhere; and, on the supposition that they would agree to no restitution, there would be no present purpose answered by continuing the war, and no inconvenience sustained by adjourning our claims (reclamations) to a happier period; the Executive Directory, if it should relish the plan resulting from the notes which General Kleber is preparing to send home, may early remove every difficulty; and by an alliance with England and the Porte, deliver, at one stroke, the French Republic from these two powerful enemies, and from all the others, whose fall their defection from the alliance would necessarily ensure.

At all events, IT IS INDISPENSABLE TO OPEN NEGOTIATIONS IN THE MOST EARNEST MANNER WITH THE ENGLISH AND THE PORTE; EVEN IF NO OTHER ADVANTAGE SHOULD RESULT FROM THEM THAN GAINING TIME, AND GIVING OFFENCE TO RUSSIA; such offence as should induce her to declare war against the Grand Seignior, to an opportunity of doing which she seems to look forward with impatience.

Health and respect.



[British Translators' Notes]

(1)The name of Poussielgue is familiar to the readers of the intercepted correspondence. They have seen and admired his accurate description of the victory of Aboukir: he appears here in a new light; and though his views for this country cannot be considered as evincing much knowledge of our character or connexions, yet his observations, as far as they respect France, must be allowed to be judicious. It would be superfluous to dwell on the importance of this letter, or to call the reader’s attention to the hopeless situation of the French affairs in the Mediterranean. The defultory whining of Le Roy showed that their commerce was annihilated there; the strong and conclusive representations of Poussielgue prove that their military influence will not long survive it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Comptroller of Finances Confirms the Economic Disaster in Egypt

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. 3, pp. 84-85.




Cairo, October 10, 1799.

E. POUSSIELGUE, Comptroller of the Expenses of the Army, and Administrator-general of the Finances of Egypt, to the Commissioners of the National Treasury.

Citizen Commissioners,

I SHALL have no account to lay before you till my return to France, or till the freedom and safety of our communications shall be re-established. The present account will be concise: it will be found more detailed in that of your Paymaster-general.

I confine myself to assuring you, that it is not possible to exhibit better order in this department, more integrity and accuracy in the payments, or stricter observance of the rules prescribed by the laws, than your paymaster-general has already shown.

In spite of the most severe economy, the army is extremely in arrear: it already amounts to more than ten millions; and, as our resources are daily diminishing, this arrear must necessarily increase. You will be successively presented with the drafts which we have been obliged to give to different people whom we could by no means pay in specie; I entreat you earnestly to honour them duly, as well for preserving to the army the only means of obtaining credit that are left, as for doing justice to a set of men(1), who are here sacrificing their health, and supporting every kind of privation imaginable.

Health and respect.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)Poussielgue alludes to those speculators, brokers, &c. who always attend the plundering expeditions of the French, and of whom so striking a description is given by Descorches. See the second part of the Intercepted Correspondence, p. 184.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Commissary Discusses British Blockade

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. 3, pp. 74-80.



Alexandria, October 1, 1799.

LE ROY, Commissary to the Marine in Egypt, to the Minister of Marine and of the Colonies.

Citizen Minister,

I MOST anxiously wish that the safe arrival of the four vessels under the command of Rear-admiral Ganteaume may have put you in possession of the short letter which I had just time to dispatch; duplicates of which were put on board them on the 22d of August, the day of their departure.

At all events, however, I send you a list of the names, &c. of those vessels:

Le Murion, of 28 guns, 18-pounders on the main-deck. Ganteaume, Rear-admiral; De la Rue, Captain.

Le Carrere, of 28 guns, 12-pounders. Dumanoir’le Pelley, General of Division.

(Both of these frigates are Venetian built; bolted with iron, and coppered here; the first on the 24th of October, and the second the 15th of November last.)

L’independent, Advice-boat, 4 six-pounders. Gaftaud, Ensign.

La Revanche, Advice-boat, 4 three-pounders. Picard, Ensign.

General Bonaparte took his passage on board Le Muiron. The Proclamations, which I enclose, first announced to the army his departure, and the appointment of General Kleber in his stead.

I should have been happy to send you a correct list of the passengers on board these four vessels; but the secrecy of their departure prevented the names from being entered on the registers of the proper office; and I have asked in vain for information from the officers of the present staff. You will find at the conclusion of my letter the only list which the first clerk of the Navy Office was able to procure me; and another made up on conjecture.

General Bonaparte and Rear-admiral Ganteaume will have given you better information than I can pretend to do on our internal situation. I shall merely confine myself to hazarding a few brief observations on the port of Alexandria.

Deprived of nearly all correspondence with France since our arrival in this country, we have the most undoubted proofs of the successful activity of the enemy in intercepting our communications. It strikes me therefore, that it would be exceedingly proper to dispatch, by a swift-sailing vessel, a cipher that would at once enable me to send you more detailed accounts.

From the time that General Bonaparte left us, the men on the look-out have discovered but three ships in the offing; and a boat which was suspected to have dispatches on board. We might easily have taken it, had we been provided with a few light, copper-bottomed vessels. It certainly does not fall within my department to say any thing respecting the naval forces. The sole means of giving effect to the successes of the land army; but I must, notwithstanding, do myself the honour to hint to you, that during those periods when the blockade is accidentally raised, a few corvettes, carrying from 12 to 16 guns, and coppered, might be successfully employed on expeditions of the utmost utility to the colony.

Here is the copy of a report made to the Directory by the Commander in Chief: “We have a confused account of an army collecting in Syria, under the immediate command of the Grand Vizier, composed first, of the troops which followed him from Constantinople; secondly, of those of Djezzar, Pashaw of Acre, and, thirdly, of the remainder of the Mameloucs, under Ibrahim, ancient Cheik-el-beled, or chief of the Beys.”

Whatever, Citizen Minister, may be the issue of our military operations, I cannot but think it of the utmost moment that the Executive Directory should appoint a commissary, with the requisite powers, to supply the void of the inspection, formerly confided to the ambassador at the Ottoman Porte. They should also consult on the means, either of diminishing the losses of the Levant trade; or rather of reproducing and invigorating it, at the period of peace: the employment and the subsistence of the fourteen provinces imperiously call for something of this kind.

These useful functions, Citizen Minister, should be confided in some former manager of these establishments; one habituated to repair the evils which a war of invasion, and its attendant consequences, inevitably bring on foreign trade. It will be also essentially necessary to define with rigorous exactness the limits of authority in each department. Military ardour enters little into the system of a counterpoising power: it sacrifices every thing to the calls of the moment; it lays its hands on the civil officers of every description. Soldiers forget what influence a respect for the laws and a love of order has on the event of things; they listen only to an interested ambition, and occasion, without intending it, disorders of the most irreparable kind. I have seen myself, an officer, in other respects a valuable character, insist upon commanding the harbour, the troops, and the workmen! Did a Rear admiral chance to drop in; their authorities instantly clashed: confusion succeeded to confusion; and private interest, which alone pursues its object with steadiness, took advantage of these multiplied pretensions of the different orders in the Mediterranean, and the re-establishment of trade in that sea, cal for the most prompt, decisive, and judicious measures.

Health and respect.


P.S. Since my letter was finished, I have had an opportunity of procuring some information form the captain of a ship, who has frequented the ports of the Levant. The merchants have constantly rejected my application.

Our merchandise was usually exchanged in Egypt for the merchandise of the country, which consisted of the productions of Yemen, and those of the interior of Africa.

The Beys took from the traders the articles of which they stood in need; but always on credit. They paid for them at their leisure; so that there are considerable debts still out-standing in most of the commercial towns of the country; some arising from exchanges which have not been completed, and others from former demands.

In the present situation of things, it would seem to be no less an act of prudence than of justice to empower an agent of Government to lay before them the account-books of the different houses in advance, that an estimate may be formed of what is due to the whole body, and proper measures taken to recover it.

With respect to the other ports of the Levant, nothing but peace can enable the merchants to get in what is due to them. The object of Government should be to furnish them with the degree of protection necessary to support and enforce their claims.


Monday, December 3, 2007

Report Outlines Debt Bonaparte Accumulated in Egypt

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. 3, pp. 57-60.


Army of the East.

French Republic.

ESTIMATE of the different sums due on the 23d of August 1799, the Period at which General KLEBER took upon himself the Command of the Army.

PAY of the army -- -- 4,015,000

Extraordinaries -- -- 576,000

Difference of pay, between the law of the 2d Thermidor, in the year 2, and that of the 23d Floreal, in the year 5, due to part of the army -- -- 802,332

Artillery -- -- 91,214

Marine, military, and merchant service, by a rough calculation -- -- 3,962,124

Military subsistence -- -- 1,198,973

Clothing -- -- 144,381

Military Hospitals -- -- 311,277

Military Convoys -- -- 177,098

Military Posts -- -- 5,432

To the Interceptor of the saddle manufactory -- -- 12,601

To the Interceptor of the boot manufactory -- -- 6,000

To the Commissaries at Suez – 7,014

To certain French, Turks, and Greeks, who have furnished provisions at Alexandria and elsewhere -- -- 41,980

To Citizen Rosetty for provisions for the army, when on its march to Rhamanie -- -- 3,222

Total -- -- 11,315,252


Since the army quitted France, the expenditure has exceeded the receipts by 11,315,252 livres—this debt, then, must inevitably continue increasing. At our first arrival here, requisitions were made in all the towns for the immediate subsistence of the troops. They have never been paid for.

Extraordinary contributions were levied upon the merchants, tradesmen, &c.

The assets of the Mameloucs were also seized on our arrival; their wives been made to pay an extraordinary imposition.

The receipts of the last year were greater than those of the present can possibly be. The inundation has failed, and many villages have been deprived of water.

The debt above stated, does not include what is due to the provinces for the supplies in kind, with which the troops were furnished during their march.

It is evident from these observations, that, as long as the army of Egypt is engaged in hostilities, there can be no foreign trade; nor can the receipts be possibly made to answer the expenses. It is peace alone which can place the receipts on a satisfactory footing.

Certified by me,

E. POUSSIELGUE, Commissary-general, &c. to be conformable to the respective lifts delivered to me at Cairo, Oct. 7, 1799.

Examined by the Commander in Chief,


Saturday, December 1, 2007

Kleber Addresses French Soldiers after Bonaparte Leaves

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. 3, pp. 55-56.


Head Quarters, Cairo, August 31, 1799.

KLEBER, Commander in Chief, to the ARMY SOLDIERS!

MOTIVES of the most imperious nature have determined the Commander in Chief, Bonaparte, to return to France.

The dangers incident to a voyage undertaken in no very favourable part of the year(1), on a narrow sea, covered with the enemies’ fleets, were too feeble to arrest him. Your happiness was at stake!

Soldiers! A powerful reinforcement, or a glorious peace, is at hand: a peace worthy of you and your achievements, is on the point of restoring you to your country.

In taking upon myself the charge with which Bonaparte was intrusted, I was neither unaware of its importance, nor of the toil and danger attending it; but on the other hand, when I considered your gallantry, so often crowned with the most brilliant success; your unwearied patience in braving every calamity, and supporting every privation; when I considered, in short, all that might be done or attempted with such soldiers, I lost sight of every thing but the advantage of being at your head, and the honour of commanding you; and I felt myself inspired with a new vigour.

Soldiers! Rely upon what I say; your urgent wants shall be the never-ceasing object of my most earnest solicitude.


By order of the Commander in Chief, the General of Division, and Chief of the Staff,


A true copy.

DUMAS, Adjutant General.

A true copy.


[British Translators' Notes]

(1)The 22d of August may seem to those acquainted with the Mediterranean, no very unfavourable season for putting to sea; but the north west winds, which almost constantly prevail there about this period, make the voyage to France extremely tedious, and fully justify Kleber’s observation. For the rest, this ADDRESS, delivered while that General was yet smarting from the recent perfidy of Bonaparte, may be recommended to the reader as a model of generosity, manliness, and true military honour.