Wednesday, January 30, 2008

French Maneuver Forces Around the Suez

From: An Account of the French Expedition in Egypt; Written by Bonaparte and Berthier; with Sir William Sidney Smith’s Letters. With an English translation (London, Edward Baines, 1800.), pp. 11-14.

[ALEXANDER BERTHIER, General of Division, Chief of the Staff of the Army, to the Minister at War].

Head Quarters, Alexandria, 11th Thermidor [July 29].

October 1, 1798; he punished the guilty, he pardoned the rest and re-established order. He established a system of defence for the city of Cairo, in such a manner as to secure it against the Arabs, while at the same time he rendered himself master of that populous town so as to command it with a battalion. The French parties were disposed in such a manner, that they were proof against any seditious movement. He adopted a system of warfare against the hordes which have always depopulated Egypt. He established a new distribution of imposts. He introduced economy into the administrative part of the army. He established a new distribution of imports. He introduced economy into the administrative part of the army. He established a commercial company. He employed General Andreoffi, distinguished equally for his military and scientific knowledge, to reduce the Lake Muzalee, the Pelusiac Mouths, and to take an accurate survey of all these points, both in a scientific and military point of view. General Andreoffi having on the [23d October] returned from this survey, set out again with Citizen Berthollet, to survey the Lake of Nitron. Bonaparte had established an Institute at Cairo. He formed there a library, caused a chemical laboratory to be constructed, assigned proper funds for the support of these establishments and sent out men of science to examine those parts of the country where the position of the army assured them of safety. In short, he made every preparation for his expedition in Syria; before his departure he wished to make himself master of Suez and to explore that point, of so much consequence to the commerce of India, as well as to resolve the question concerning the canal which was said to have joined the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, respecting which, history has left only doubts.

While Bonaparte was making preparations for his Syrian expedition, he set out for Suez on the [22d September]. He was preceded by General Bon, who, with 1500 men, and two pieces of cannon, had traversed the Desert, and taken possession of Suez on [December 7]. Bonaparte being at Suez, learned that Dgezzar has been appointed Pacha of Damascus and Egypt—that he was assembling troops—and that a corps was already approaching the port of El-Arisch situated at the distance of a day’s journey from the entrance of the Desert. He sent orders to General Reignier, who was at Salchieh with the division, to dispatch General Lagrange with the 9th demi-brigade, and two pieces of artillery, to take possession of Cathich, and to construct there a fort.—The same day Bonaparte arrived at Cairo, where he employed himself with the utmost activity, in completing the preparations for his expeditions into Syria.

The army for this expedition consisted of the division of General Kleber, having under his command, Generals Verdier and Junot; the 2d demi brigade of light infantry; two battalions of the 25th of the line, and two of the 75th.—The division of General Reigner, having under his command General of Brigade Lagrange: the 9th demi-brigade of the line; and the 85th.—The division of General Bon, having under his command the Generals of Brigade Rampon and Vial: the 1st battalion of the 4th light infantry; and 1st and 2d of the 69th; 900 cavalry of different regiments, commanded by General Murat.—On the 5th the troops lay on their arms in the Desert. On the 6th they arrived at Suez. On the 8th they passed the Red Sea, at a ford near Suez, which is practicable at low water, and proceeded to the fountains of Moses, situated at the distance of two leagues and a half from Suez, in Asia.—These fountains are formed by five springs, which arise from the top of small mounts of sand. The water is fresh, but a little brackish. There are found here the vestiges of a small modern aqueduct, which conveyed water to cisterns on the sea-shore where it was preserved for the use of ships. These fountains are at the distance of three quarters of a league from the sea. In the evening they entered Suez, but it was high water; they then ascended to the point of the Red Sea; but the guide lost himself in the marshes, from which he extricated himself with difficulty, being up to the middle in water. This guide must have been a descendant of the one who conducted Pharaoh. Suez seems to have been a considerable staple of commerce. None but barks can enter the port; but a sand-bank, which projects a league into the sea, which is dry at low water, and near which frigates can anchor, renders it possible to construct a battery, which would protect the anchorage, and defend the road.—The Arabs of Tor came to solicit the friendship of the French. Bonaparte encouraged commerce, by establishing a custom-house, where the duties are inferior to those paid at the time of the arrival of the French, and he secured it against the usual oppression of the Mamelukes and the Pachas.—There is reason to believe that Suez will assume more splendor than ever it enjoyed before, considering the dispositions for its protection, and particularly for transporting goods from Suez to Cairo and Belbeis, by organized caravans. During our stay here, four vessels arrived from Djedda. On the 10th, Bonaparte set out from Suez, marching along the Red Sea to the north. At the distance of two leagues and a half from Suez, he found the remains of the entrance of the canal of Suez, which he followed four leagues. The same night he rested at the fort of Adgeroud; on the 11th, at the distance of ten leagues in the Desert; and on the 12th, at Belbeis. On the 14th he advanced into Honareb, where he found vestiges of the canal of Suez, at its entrance into the canal of Suez, and his entrance into the cultivated and watered land of Egypt. He followed it for the space of several leagues, and ordered Citizen Peyre, engineer, to report to Suez, and to set out with a sufficient escort, to take a geometrical level of the whole course of the canal—an operation which will resolve the problem of the existence of one of the greatest and most useful works in the world. General Dommartin, commandant of artillery. General Caffarelli, commandant of engineers. The park was composed of four 12-pounders, three 8-pounders, five howitzers, and three 5-inch mortars. There we attached besides, to each of the four divisions, two 8-pounders, two 6 inch howitzers, and two 3-pounders. To the guides on horseback, four 8-pounders, and two 6-inch howitzers. To the cavalry four 4-pounders.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Berthier Explains Preliminary Operations in Syrian Campaign

From: An Account of the French Expedition in Egypt; Written by Bonaparte and Berthier; with Sir William Sidney Smith’s Letters. With an English translation (London, Edward Baines, 1800.), pp. 9-11.

ALEXANDER BERTHIER, General of Division, Chief of the Staff of the Army, to the Minister at War.

Head Quarters, Alexandria, 11th Thermidor [July 29].

YOU will find annexed, Citizen Minister, a relation of the campaign in Syria, and an account of the memorable battle of aboukir. The courage and constancy of our brave troops multiply our forces. We confidently believe that the Government does not lose sight of this army.


Head Quarters, Alexandria, 11th Thermidor [July 29].

THE object of the military and political conduct of Bonaparte, from the moment of the army landing in Egypt, was to strike a great blow against England, at the same time that he neglected nothing that could tend to convince the Porte of the desire the French Republic entertained of continuing the friendship which existed between the two powers. On the capture of Malta, a great number of Turkish slaves were delivered, and sent to Constantinople. Since our entering Egypt, the Turkish flag has waved along with that of France; the agents of the Porte were respected. A Turkish galley was in the port of Alexandria, as well as several merchant ships.—Bonaparte assured the Captain of the attachment of the French. An order arrived from the Grand Seignior for the galley to proceed to Constantinople. It was at that time when the Turkish vessels usually leave Egypt. Bonaparte made a present to the Captain of the galley, and desired him to take on board Citizen Beauchamps, with dispatches, assuring the Porte of the desire the French nation entertained of preserving the existing relations of friendship. He signified to the Grand Signior the causes of complaint which he had against Achmet, Dgezzar, Pacha of Acre, and stated that the punishment he intended to inflict upon that Pacha, if he continued to behave improperly, ought to give no uneasiness to the Ottoman Empire. These were the grounds of complaint against Dgezzar:--Ibrahim Bey, with about 1000 Mamelukes, had fled to Gaza after the affair of Salehich; Dgezzar had given him a cordial reception. Bonaparte had forseen every thing that could alarm the Porte. He had dispatched an officer to Dgezzar by sea. He carried a letter, assuring him that the French Republic was serious to preserve friendship with the Grand Seignior and to live at peace with him; but he insisted that Dgezzar should dismiss Ibrahim Bey and his Mamelukes, and refuse them aid. Achmet Dgezzar(1) returned no answer to this advance of Bonaparte. He arrogantly sent back the French officer, and the French at Acre were put in irons. Dgezzar not only continued to receive the Mamelukes with welcome, but threatened the frontiers of Egypt by hostile preparations. The army received no intelligence from Europe. The ports of Egypt were blocked up; but all the accounts received over land announced that the policy of England had availed itself of the affair of Aboukir to seduce the Porte, and prevail upon the Turkish Government to agree to an offensive alliance against us. Russia seemed equally desirous to draw the Grand Seignior into its views, under the pretext of connecting their interests, in the view of attacking us. What an inconsistent union of politics! But every thing may be expected from a Government no less barbarous than ignorant, and overwhelmed with anarchy. Bonaparte concluded, that if the Porte declared for our enemies, a combined operation would take place against Egypt; an attack on the side of Syria, and an attack by sea. He accordingly resolved to march into Syria, if it remained our friend: return into Egypt, be at the combined operation by sea, which, from the season, probably would not take place before about the end of June. Bonaparte, after having driven Ibrahim Bey into Syria, had returned to Cairo. He had sent General Dessaix with his division in pursuit of the remains of the army of Murad Bey, who continued in Upper Egypt. He organized the Government of Egypt by establishing a Diwan in every province. He has communicated to the people the happiness of being their own governors. He caused Salchieh, Balbeis, Alexandria, and Damietta, branches of the Nile, and the mouth of the Rosetta at Lasba, to be fortified, he suppressed the sedition at Cairo on the 30th Vendemiaire.

(1)Achmet, surnamed Dgezzar (which signifies butcher) the disgrace of human nature, regarded as a monster, even amongst the most barbarous people of the East, who has filled his territories with moments of cruelty unheard of till his time. He has caused several of his wives to be slain on the most frivolous pretexts. He causes the men he wishes to chastise to be loaded with irons. He cuts off with his own hands the heads of his confidants. He cuts off nose, ears, hands, and feet from the most trivial suspicions. He makes those who displease him rot alive to the very head. He encourages the robbery and peculation of his officers, in order to seize and strangle them for wealth they have amassed.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Bonaparte Writes from Syria

From: An Account of the French Expedition in Egypt; Written by Bonaparte and Berthier; with Sir William Sidney Smith’s Letters. With an English translation (London, Edward Baines, 1800.), pp. 7-8.


Head Quarters at Jaffa, [May 27, 1799]


I INFORMED you, by the courier whom I dispatched on the [23d April], of the events so glorious for the Republic, which have taken place during the last three months in Syria, and of the resolution which I have adopted of repassing the Desert immediately, that I may arrive in Egypt before the month of Thermidor [June].

The batteries of mortars, and of 24-pounders, were established, as I announced to you, on [May 12], in order to destroy the palace of Dgezzar, and the principal buildings of Acre. They were played continually for sixty-two hours, and fully completed the end which I proposed, the place being incessantly on fire.

The garrison, in a sort of despair, made a general sortie on the [16th May]. The General of Brigade Verdier, was in the trenches, and the action lasted for three hours. The remainder of the troops arrived a week before from Constantinople, and who were exercised after the European manner, advanced against our trenches in close columns. We withdrew our men from the posts, which we had occupied on the ramparts; and by that means the batteries, on which were our field-pieces, could fire with a grape shot on the enemy. More than half of them fell, in consequence, on the field of battle. Our troops then beat the charge in the trenches, and pursued the remainder, the bayonet in their reins. We took on this occasion, eighteen stand of colours.

The opportunity appeared to be favorable for carrying the place: but our spies, the deserters, and the prisoners, all agreed in stating, that the plague was then making most terrible ravages in the town of Acre; that more than sixty persons died of it every day; and that the symptoms of it were dreadful, those who were seized with it dying in thirty-six hours, and in convulsions similar to madness.

Had we entered the town, it would have been impossible to prevent the soldiers from pillage; and thus, in the evening, they would have brought into the camp the feeds of that dreadful disease, more formidable than all the armies of the world.

The army left Acre on the [21st May], and arrived in the evening. We encamped on the following night, on the ruins of Caesarea, surrounded by fragments of columns of marble and of granite, which announce the former grandeur of the place.

During the last two days, the army has been filing off with detachments to Egypt. I shall remain for some days at Jaffa, in order to blow up the fortifications. I shall next proceed to punish some districts where misconduct has prevailed; and in a few days I shall repass the Desert after leaving a strong garrison at El-Arisch. My next dispatches shall be dated from Cairo.


Monday, January 21, 2008

Bonaparte Describes Military Campaigns to the Directors

From: An Account of the French Expedition in Egypt; Written by Bonaparte and Berthier; with Sir William Sidney Smith’s Letters. With an English translation (London, Edward Baines, 1800.), pp. 2-6

BONAPARTE Commander in Chief to the DIRECTORY.

Camp before Acre, 21 Floreal, An. 7. (May 10, 1799.)


I HAVE already transmitted to you the information, that Achmet Dgazzar, the Pacha of Acre, of Tripoli, and of Damas, had been appointed Pacha of Egypt; that he had raised a considerable army, and that his advanced guards had even marched to El-Arisch, threatening the rest of Egypt with a speedy invasion; that the Turkish transport vessels were collected in the port of Macri, for the purpose of transporting the army to Alexandria, when the season should admit; and that, for the movements which existed in Arabia, it was to be expected that the number of the people of Yambo, who had passed the Red Sea, would be greatly augmented in the course of the spring.

You have seen, by my last dispatch, the rapidity with which the army crossed the Desert. You have learned, also, the capture of El-Arisch, of Gaza, and of Jaffa, with the discomfiture of the army of the enemy, who lost all their magazines, a part of their camels, their stores, and camp-equipage.

There still remained two months, before the season of debarkation in Egypt. I therefore determined to pursue the remains of the hostile army, and to carry the war, during that interval, into the heart of Syria. We put ourselves, in consequence, on our march to Acre.

On the 25th Ventose (March 15), at ten o’clock in the morning, we perceived the enemy on the other side of the village of Kakoun. They had taken a position on our flank: their left, being composed of the people of Naplouse (the ancient Samaritans), was supported by a small hill, rather difficult of access; their cavalry was drawn up on the right.

General Kleber advanced against the enemy’s horse; General Lasne attacked the left wing; and General Murat led the cavalry in the centre. General Kleber, after a slight discharge of musketry, put to fight the enemy’s right wing, and pursued them with impetuosity; they took the road to Acre.


ON the 27th, at eight o’clock in the evening, we took possession of Kaissa. An English Squadron was moored in the road. Four pieces of battering artillery, which I had caused to be embarked at Alexandria on board four transport vessels, were taken off the cast of Kaissa by the English.

Several vessels, laden with bombs and provisions, escaped, and cast anchor at Kaissa. The English wished to carry them off; but Lambert, the Commodore of the squadron, repulsed them, having killed or wounded an hundred of their men, taken thirty prisoners, and got possession of the gun-vessel, with a 36 pound cannonade.

We had, as yet, nothing to place on our batteries before Acre but our field pieces. We battered in breach a tower which formed the most remote angle of the place. Our mine failing, the counterscarp was not blown up. The citizen Mailly, and adjoint to the staff, was killed in advancing to reconnoiter the effect of the mine.

You will see, by the Journal of the Seige, that on the 6th, 10th, and 18th, and 26th Germinal (March 26, 30, April 7, and 15), the enemy made several brisk forties, but were always repulsed with loss by General Vial.

On the 12th (April 1), our miners blew up the counterscarp; but the breach did not prove to be practicable.

On the 11th (March 31), General Murat took possession of Saffet, the ancient Bethulia. The inhabitants shew the place where Judith killed Holophemes. On the same day General Junot entered into and possessed Nazareth.

IN the mean time, a numerous army was advancing from Damas. It passed the Jordan on the 17th (April 6). The advanced guard was engaged, during the whole day, on the 19th, with General Junot, who, with 500 men of the 2d and 19th demi-brigades, put the enemy completely to the route, took from them five standards, and covered the field of battle with dead bodies. This was a distinguished action, which did honour to the valour and coolness of the French.


On the 20th, General Kleber left the camp before Acre. He marched to meet the enemy, and found them at the village of Cana. He formed his troops into two square bodies. The armies, after exchanging a fire of Cannon and Musquetry, which sailed the greater part of the day, returning at night into their several camps.

On the 22d (April 11), the enemy moved from the right of General Kleber, and advanced to the plain of Aledecten, in order to form a junction with the Naplousians. General Kleber pushed forward between the river Jordan and the enemy, turned Mont-Tabor, and marched the whole of the night of the 26th (April 15), for the purpose of taking the enemy by surprise. He did not arrive in presence of the enemy until after day-break. He then formed his division into a square battalion. A cloud of enemies surrounded him on every side. He had to encounter, through the whole day, repeated charges of cavalry; but they were all repulsed with the greatest bravery.

The division of General Bon left the camp before Acre at noon on the 25th (April 14); and on the 27th, at nine o’clock in the morning, he found himself on the rear of the enemy, who occupied an immense plain. We never before saw such a number of cavalry, wheeling, charging and maneuvering in every direction. We did not make our appearance at all. Our cavalry carried the camp of the enemy, which was distant two leagues from the field of battle. We there took upwards of 400 camels and all the baggage, particularly that of the Mameloucs.

The Generals Vial and Rampon, at the head of their troops, formed into square battalions, marched in different directions, in such a manner as to form with the division of Kleber the three angles of an equilateral triangle, extending about [4000 yards] on each side, of which the enemy formed the centre. Being arrived within cannon shit, our troops all presented themselves at once, and terror seemed to pervade the ranks of the enemy. In a moment, this immense cloud of horsemen was scattered in disorder, and reached the banks of the Jordan. The infantry ascended the neighbouring heights and escaped under cover of the night.

On the following day I ordered the villages of Genine, Hourez, and Onalm, to be burned, for the purpose of the punishing the Naplousians. General Kleber was engaged in pursuing the enemy to the banks of the Jordan.

General Murut, during this time, had left the camp before Acre on the 23d (April 12), in order to raise the siege of Saffet, and to seize and bear off the magazines at Tabarich.

He defeated the enemy’s column, and got possession of all their baggage. Thus this army, the approach of which was announced with so much pomp, being, according to the reports of the natives, “As numerous as the stars of the heavens, or the sands of the sea,” a strange body of horse and foot soldiers, of every colour, and of every country, repassed the Jordan with the utmost precipitation, after having left an immense quantity of dead upon the field of battle. If we may judge of their fears from the rapidity of their flight, the terror with which they were seized was beyond all example!

You will observe, in the journal of the Siege of Acre, the efforts which were made, on the one side and on the other, to effect the passage of the moat, and to lodge ourselves in the tower, where mines were met by counter-mines. Several 24-pounders having at length arrived, we proceeded seriously to batter the place. On the 7th, 11th, and 13th Floreal, the enemy made several sallies, which were vigorously repulsed. On the 8th of May, the enemy received a reinforcement, which was brought by thirty Turkish ships of war. On that day they made four forties. They filled our trenches with their dead bodies, and we effected a lodgement, after a most bloody assault, within one of the most essential points of the place.

We were now masters of the principal points of the rampart, the Enemy had drawn a second line of entrenchments which had the castle of Dgezzar for their point of support. It remained for us to make our way through the town: it would have been necessary to open trenches before every house, and to sacrifice a great number of men, to which I was by no means inclined. The season, in addition to this, was too far advanced. The object which I had proposed to myself was accomplished; and now Egypt called me away.

I ordered a battery of 24-pounders to be erected, for the purpose of demolishing the palace of the Dgezzar, and the principal buildings of the town. I ordered also a thousand bombs to be thrown in which, in a place so confined, must have done considerable mischief. Having reduced Acre to a pile of rubbish, I shall repass the Desart, and be ready to receive the European or the Turkish army, which in Thermidor or Messidor (June or July) may be inclined to land in Egypt. I shall send to you, from Cairo, an account of the victories which General Desaix has obtained in Upper Egypt: he has several times routed the forces which came against him from Arabia, and has nearly scattered the whole of Mameloucs.

In all the actions, a great number of brave men fell, at the head of whom I must place the Generals Caffarelli and Rombaud. A greater number still has been wounded, amongst whom are the Generals Bon and Lasne.

I have lost, since my passage through the Desart, five hundred men killed, and twice that number wounded. The enemy has lost more than fifteen thousand men.

I demand of you the rank of General of Division for General Lasne, and that of General of Brigade for Citizen Songis, Chief of the Brigade of Artillery. I have given promotion to other officers, as you will find by the list annexed to this letter. I shall take occasion to inform you of the traits of courage by which a number of brave men have distinguished themselves.

I have been completely satisfied with the army. In a kind of new warfare so new to Europeans, it has made evident that true courage and warlike talents can surmount every obstacle, and are not to be disheartened by any privations. The result will be, we trust, an advantageous peace and an increase of glory and prosperity to the Republic.


Sunday, January 13, 2008

French Give Desperate Account of Egyptian Occupation

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. 122-151




Cairo, September 22, 1799.

E. POUSSIELGUE, Comptroller of the Expences of the Army, and Administrator-general of the Finances of Egypt, to the EXECUTIVE DIRECTORY.

Citizen Directors,

I HAVE been exclusively charged, since the arrival of the army in Egypt, with the administration of the finances, and of the other departments connected with the political economy of this country.

I conceive I owe you, after the departure of the General Bonaparte, and in the critical situation in which he left us, a concise but faithful representation of the observations which I have collected, and the political opinions which naturally flow from them.

Travelers, and even the agents of the French Government, who have been in Egypt, have so cordially agreed in the exaggerated ideas which they have disseminated respecting the natural riches, and the treasures which this country contains, that a residence of fifteen months, with multiplied researches, and experiments by a great number of enlightened men, have not yet totally effaced the false impressions they had given.

The ordinary revenues, including the customs, were estimated from 49 to 50,000,000; some have even carried them as far as 60,000,000.

They can only be reckoned, in time of peace, at 19,000,000; a system of commerce well managed, and well protected, might raise them to 20,000,000.

In time of war (such as that in which we have been incessantly engaged) the revenues do not, by any means, exceed 12 or 13,000,000.

Abundance in Egypt depends, first, on a good Nile, and secondly, on the distribution of the water: every year the canals must be cleaned out, the dikes repaired, and care taken that none of them be cut sooner or later than the common interest appears to require.

The distribution and the maintenance of the canals are very far from being carried here to that degree of utility which one would expect to find in a country, whose fertility entirely depends on the observation of these two circumstances.

Even when the Nile is good, a great quantity of land remains uncultivated, for want of order in cutting the dikes: but when the Nile is bad, or middling, the loss is ten times greater than it ought to be, because all the villages being equally afraid of wanting water, those who border on the river hasten, before the proper time, to cut the dikes: which is never done without a contest with the villages interested in opposing it: and by this inconsiderate method of proceeding, a great part of the water, already so scarce, is lost without procuring the least advantage.

But however productive the harvests may be, they cannot, under the present system, increase the revenues of the Government, although it be itself proprietor of two-thirds of the lands of Egypt; while, on the other hand, a bad Nile diminishes them considerably.

The Egyptian system of finance is entirely feudal.

The peasant ploughs and sows for his own advantage, in consideration of a fixed rent which he pays in money, or in kind, to the proprietor.

This rent may be divided into three distinct heads.

The Miri: this is a kind of ground-rent due to the Grand Seignor; the proprietor receives and pays in to the Effendi appointed to collect it.

This Miri, imposed on the lands, amounts to 3,000,000 livres, according to the rent-rolls which fell into my hands.

The second kind of rent is called Barani, or Moudaf; it is composed, first, of an over-charge of income, laid on by the proprietor by way of requisitions of every kind, made on the village, either of money or of produce. Thirdly, of expenses caused by the passage of the troops, or by the visits of the proprietor. Fourthly, of all the official charges of the village and the province, pious foundations, &c. &c. These united, produce from all the landed property of Egypt, 6,400,000.

Besides this, there is a sum of 1,300,000 arising from the duties which the Cachess used to collect for their own advantage in the provinces which they governed.

Thus it appears that the sum total of the revenues in specie which are raised from the cultivators of the lands of Egypt (exclusive of the immense peculations of the Copts who collect them) amount pretty nearly to 14,000,000.

From there must be deducted 3,200,000 livres for the fais and the baranis of the lands which do not appertain to the Government, and which are estimated at a third of Egypt: there will then remain to the Government 10,800,000.

It is not possible to obtain more than this, without making advances, or exactions.

To this revenue must be added the fais and barani which is paid in kind. This only takes place in the provinces of Upper Egypt.

This is estimated at 1,800,000 quintals of all kinds of grain, for that portion which belongs to the Government: taking the whole as equivalent to 1,000,000 quintals of good wheat, at 3 livres 10 fols each, it will amount to 3,500,000 livres.

From this must be deducted 850,000 for the expenses of collecting and carrying, which amount to 17 fols for every quintal delivered at Cairo: there remain then 2,650,000 livres.

In time of peace the produce of the customs and of the other indirect duties is usually stated at about 5,000,000.

The Mint produces 750,000.

From this it appears that the revenues of the government in time of peace will be 19,200,000 livres; but in the state of war in which we are, the customs and indirect revenues do not produce more than 1,500,000.

The grain of Upper Egypt which is not sold on the spot, and which we have no sufficient means to bring down the country, will not produce more than a million. The discharges that must be given to the villages for the lands not watered, will amount to more than 1,500,000.

There must still be deducted a number of charges and pensions granted to the country, and which we have been obliged to continue; the expenses of the caravan to Mecca, which were partly supplied by us last year, and which must be wholly so, this; the expenses of the Divans of the Provinces, and of the Janissaries of the country: all these will take off nearly 3,000,000.

It is not possible, then, to take the revenues appropriated to the army at more than 9 of the 10,000,000; of this sum there only remains about 2,000,000 to be obtained from this period to the 20th of December next.

General Bonaparte levied in the first months of our arrival on the different nations, and on the merchants, about 4,000,000 livres of extraordinary contributions. He also laid a duty of two-fifths of a year’s revenue on the landed property of individuals, which brought in about 1,2000,000.

These expedients are worn out. No more extraordinary contributions can be looked for in a country where all trade has been at an end for nineteen months. The money of the Christians is exhausted; we cannot ask the Turks for any without occasioning a revolt, and, besides, we should in no case obtain it. The money is hid; and the Turks, still more than the Christians, suffer themselves to be imprisoned, to be beaten in the most cruel manner; nay, SOME OF THEM HAVE EVEN SUFFERED THEIR HEADS TO BE CUT OFF RATHER THAN DISCOVER WHERE THEY HAD CONCEALED THEIR TREASURES!

The collection of the revenues begins in November for the rice-grounds; in January for the land appropriated to wheat, and other articles which pay in money; and in June for those which pay in kind.

The peasantry are still more tenacious of their money than the inhabitants of the towns; they never pay but when they are absolutely forced into it, and even then sous by sous: their money is hid, their produce and their other property buried in the ground; they know they must pay at last, and that by doing it voluntarily, and at the regular periods, they might save themselves from those violent measures which always cost them double, or ruin them. They prefer waiting for a column of troops; if they see them coming, they immediately flee with their wives, their children, and their cattle; and the soldiers find nothing at their arrival but a number of empty hovels. If they fancy themselves strong enough to resist, they give battle, and call in the neighboring villages, and even the Arabs, to their assistance. They have always scouts abroad to give them timely notice of the approach of the troops.

Sometimes it is possible to seize the chiefs of the village. They are thrown into prison, and kept there till the village has discharged what is due: this expedient is tedious, and does not always succeed. If we are fortunate enough to carry off their camels, buffaloes, and sheep, they suffer them to be sold, instead of attempting to recover them by paying their debt, and expose themselves to the hazard of dying with hunger, leaving their lands uncultivated for the succeeding year!

It is, therefore, absolutely necessary to maintain perpetually in each of the sixteen provinces of Egypt a column of eighty or a hundred men, whose sole employment it is to force the villagers to pay their taxes: very frequently after a long and laborious round the soldiers return with a mere trifle.

It is easy to conjecture all the evils, the excavations, the havoc and waste, and the confusion, which commonly attend those rounds, and which the severest discipline can neither prevent nor remedy.

An inconvenience of a very serious nature arises to prevent the collecting of the taxes during the eight months in which the country is not inundated; it is the period when the Arabs undertake their predatory incursions, when landings are made on the coasts, and when we are threatened with attack from every quarter. It then becomes necessary for us to be continually fighting; and a column of troops has scarce begun to move forward, before it is compelled to fall back, in order to punish the revolted villages, or to expel the Mameloucs and the Arabs!

The collection of grain is still more difficult. Like the tax in specie, it is absolutely necessary to compel the villages, at the point of the bayonet, to pay what is due; it must then be taken to the magazines on the banks of the Nile, embarked in boats, and sent down the river to Cairo.

When the two first difficulties are overcome, the third, more difficult than their, still remains, on account of the small number of boats which can be found for these convoys, and the short time they can be used, which is only during the four months in which the Nile is navigable. Since our arrival a prodigious number of boats have been cut up and burnt for want of other fuel; these neither have, nor can by any possible means, be replaced; a part of what is left is constantly employed in following the movements of the troops who are in pursuit of Mourad Bey.

Last year we were obliged to purchase for ready money at Cairo, notwithstanding the scarcity of specie, corn for the subsistence of the army, to the amount of more than 300,000 livres, though we had at that very time several millions worth in Upper Egypt.

This year the boats have been exclusively employed in bringing down the Government stores: the Consequence of this has been an inconvenience of another kind; the city of Cairo is in want of bread, and the uneasiness of the people on the occasion has already produced some degree of fermentation!

In despite of all these disagreeable circumstances, there was last year some specie in the country; some had been brought in by the commerce of the preceding year; and yet, when Bonaparte left us, there were more than 10,000,000 still due to the army, of which the mere pay of the troops amounted to 4,000,000.

At present the specie has entirely disappeared; nothing is now to be seen but medins, which circulate from hand to hand with inconceivable rapidity!

This coin bears but little more than a third of the intrinsic value of the other coins. Before the war, Spanish dollars were brought here in abundance, and the medins carried away: at present the dollars are all taken off by the coffee-trade with Yemen, where they are sent to the mint, and melted down; so that, like the gold coin, they become more valuable as they become more scarce, and the medins more plentiful. The consequence of this is, a rise in the price of every article, and a number of obstacles in the circulation of cash.

The present superabundance of all the mercantile productions of Egypt, arising from the total cessation of foreign trade, is a circumstance still more disagreeable: it will complete the ruin of this country; for the villages being obliged to pay us always the same sums, and unable either to export, or to find a market for, their produce at home, will speedily see their inhabitants reduced to the last stage of misery; while the army, which had so much difficulty to procure money while there was yet some in the country, will shortly be deprived of it altogether.

The military chest is always empty; and for a considerable period to come, we have not the most distant prospect of receiving more than 2 or 300,000 livres a month, while the ordinary expenses amount to more than 1,300,000 for the same space of time.

The natives of this country, notwithstanding their frequent insurrections, may be considered as a mild and tractable people; but they cannot be trusted; they are besides very far from loving us, although they have been treated with more kindness than was ever yet known to any conquered people!!!

The difference of manners, that extremely important one of language, and, above all, their religion, form obstacles of the most insuperable nature to every thing like a sincere affection.

They have the government of the Mameloucs; they dread the yoke of Constantinople; but they will never be brought to endure ours but in the hope of ultimately shaking it off. The only favour they might be disposed to grant, is, to allow us the preference of all the nations which they call Christians.

We have here, on every side of us, ten thousand secret enemies to one open friend!

We had succeeded in maintaining a good intelligence with the Cherif of Mecca; and the letters which he wrote to Bonaparte and myself had quieted for an instant the consciences of the Mussulmen in this country: but we conjecture, from some spires which he has sent to Cairo since the arrival of the Grand Vizier at Damascus, that he has changed his opinion, and, in consequence of the insinuations of the English, who have a force in the Red Sea, gone over to our enemies.

We had 41,000 effective men at our arrival in Egypt. There were then only Mameloucs and Arabs to fight; and yet these constantly and exclusively occupied the whole attention of the army to the end of January.

At present the Mameloucs, though dispersed, are notwithstanding almost all in existence; and may, whenever the attention of the army shall be otherwise occupied, reunite with the utmost promptitude: they have only lost four or five interior chiefs; the principal ones who remain are still powerful, and have a considerable degree of interest.

The Arabs are not at all diminished; they hate us as much as they did at our arrival; and their wandering kind of life renders us no objects of apprehension to them.

When we first landed, the Egyptians believed, AS WE TOLD THEM, that it was with the consent of the Grand Signior, and they submitted with more docility: at present they are perfectly convinced of the contrary. Those who appear to be in our interest conceive themselves authorized, BY OUR LIE, to betray us; they will certainly do it on the first occasion; and their hearts were bounding with joy when the landing took place at Aboukir in August last.

But when to these numerous armies, in the midst of whom we live, are added those from without; when the Grand Vizier, with the principal officers of the Ottoman Court, is assembling all the forces of the Empire to attack us in different points at once, by land and sea, assisted too by England and Russia; when he calls upon all the people of this country to rise against us; and finally, when the few Arabs whom he had attached to us leave us to go over to him; it is not difficult to discovered that our situation is desperate!

The enemy loses an army; he raises another instantly. He was beaten at Mount Tabor, two months after he was beaten at Aboukir; the same period is elapsed, and he is again ready to be beaten at Salahieh! But every victory carries off some of our best troops, and their loss cannot be repaired. A DEFEAT WOULD ANNIHILATE US ALL TO THE LAST MAN; AND HOWEVER BRAVE THE ARMY MAY BE, IT CANNOT LONG AVERT THAT FATAL EVENT!

The war has deprived us of a number of excellent officers, such as General Caffarelli, General Dommartin, General Bon, General Rambault, and General Dupuis; it has also deprived us of almost the whole corps of Engineers, and of a very considerable part of the Chiefs of Brigade, both of infantry and cavalry. Several able General have left us, and Bonaparte has taken five with him.

The army, without clothes, and, above all, without arms, and without stores of any kind, reduced to less than two thirds of its original numbers, has now no more than eleven thousand men capable of taking the field, although about thirteen or fourteen thousand appear under arms; this is owing to the appearance of a great number of soldiers at the roll-call, who prefer, sick and wounded as they are, doing duty at their quarters to staying in the hospitals or in the depots. When they are wanted to march a little farther than usual, or to fight, the force they have put upon themselves instantly appears. Wounds, opthalmies, dysenteries, and other diseases not less common here, have absolutely disabled the rest of the army.

Even those who are in a condition to march are exhausted by fatigue, enfeebled by the climate, and the wounds and sickness which they have endured; and their courage is proportionally diminished.

With this handful of men, we have to cover five hundred leagues of country; overawe three millions of inhabitants, who may be reckoned as so many enemy; and garrison the holds and fortresses of Alexandria, Rosetta, Rahmanie, Gizeh, Benisuef, Medine, Miniet, Siout, Girge, Kene, Coffeir, Cairo, Suez, Mitt Kaniar, Slahieh, El Arisch, Billbeis, Catieh, Damietta, Mansora, Semenoud, and El Benouf. Should the Grand Vizier attack us, we cannot oppose more than five or six thousand men to all the Ottoman forces which will be at his disposal; and should he attack us in two places at once, he will penetrate into the country without a possibility on our side of preventing him: this would certainly have happened to General Bonaparte, if the Turks, while they were landing at Aboukir, had made the Syrian army advance upon Egypt!

In three months, we shall be obliged to encounter, a second time, that destructive malady the plague, which may make dreadful havoc amongst us: this horrible prospect dismays the stoutest hearts.

To put finishing hand to our misfortunes, the Nile of this year has been extremely bad, having flowed off suddenly, and before the lands could be inundated in due succession; we shall not be able to draw any contribution from the villages which have not received their water, and we are threatened with the most frightful misery!

There is not a soldier, not an officer, not a general, who does not most earnestly long to return to France; persuaded, as they all are, that they are sacrificing here, without any advantage to their country, their healths, and their lives!

However, from the present situation of things in France, and considering that for more than fifteen months it has not been possible to send us any assistance, it is clear that we must forego the hope of having it in any time to do us service, especially as the favourable season has now be suffered to pass by.

The army saw with pleasure General Kleber at their head after the departure of General Bonaparte; no one is more capable of inspiring them with confidence and esteem.

But he is full of honour, and of noble pride; and the more sensible he is of the difficulty of the task thus left him, the more fearful he will be of listening to sentiments imperiously dictated by circumstances, and the immediate interest of the army, but which might some time hence be attributed, perhaps, to timidity.

Not having the same responsibility on me, I am not afraid, Citizen Directors, to lay before you the naked truth; and be assured that, however strong the representation I have just made, you would find it but feeble and imperfect, if the limits of a letter would allow me to enter into greater details.

Egypt is a very fine country; our dreadful situation in it is merely the effect of circumstances. It proves only that we are arrived too soon, and that the time is not yet come for us to establish ourselves.

There is not a doubt but that if we were peaceable masters of Egypt, we might in a few years entirely remove a great part of the evils which infest and desolate it, such as the plague and the Arabs; and give to agriculture and commerce a new activity, which should restore this country to its ancient splendor. This would render it one of the finest colonies in the world, which would speedily become the centre of universal commerce.

But Egypt is bounded by two seas (the Red Sea and the Mediterranean) and by deserts.

It is necessary to have a powerful marine to be in a condition of approaching it at pleasure; and above all, to be enabled to protect its commerce, and ensure all the advantages which it holds out.

The French Republic is at present without a navy; it will be yet a long time before it can have created one capable of contending with that of our enemies.

To pretend to preserve Egypt without having any means of sending thither, and of assuring the safety of our convoys of every kind, is merely to expose ourselves to the hazards of being compelled to abandon it to Russia or England, who, under the pretext of driving us from It, will establish themselves there, and very soon take effectual measures to exclude us from it for ever.

We might, indeed, still maintain ourselves there if we had the permission of the porte; but if it was not thought possible to obtain it before our invasion, it must be still less so now, when the Porte lies at the mercy of the Russians and the English: and even were she, contrary to all appearances, disposed, from political considerations, to suffer us to occupy Egypt provisionally, the English would never be induced to permit it.

When the expedition to Egypt took place, we were at peace on the Continent; we had still a considerable fragment of our naval force in the Mediterranean; and we were in possession of the whole of Italy, Corfu, and Malta; a hope, too, might have been indulged that we should obtain the continent of the Porte, at least tacitly; and thus we should have gained the end we proposed, against the English; for it is my opinion, with that of all the world, that our proper view was, by alarming them for the safety of their Indian possessions, to force them into a peace, advantageous for the Republic, by making the evacuation of Egypt an object of compensation for the restitutions which we should in that case required.

BUT THE FATAL ENGAGEMENT OF ABOUKIR RUINED ALL OUR HOPES. It prevented us from receiving the remainder of the forces which were destined for us; it left the field free for the English to persuade the Porte to declare war against us; it rekindled that which was hardly extinguished with the Emperor of Germany; it opened the Mediterranean to the Russians, and planted them on our frontiers; it occasioned the loss of Italy, and the invaluable possessions in the Adriatic, which we owed to the successful campaigns of Bonaparte; and finally, it at once rendered abortive all our projects, since it was no longer possible for us to dream of giving the English any uneasiness in India: add to this, that the people of Egypt whom we wished to consider as friends and allies, instantaneously became our enemies, and, entirely surrounded as we were by the Turks, we found ourselves engaged in a most difficult defensive war, without a glimpse of the slightest future advantage to be derived from it.

At present we can no longer flatter ourselves that the English will be prevailed on to agree to an equivalent in the articles of peace, for the evacuation of Egpyt. For in the first place, they know perfectly well the degree of weakness and want of which we are reduced, and which renders it impossible to undertake any thing against them: and in the second, that even if we should receive succours (which they will use every means in their power to prevent), we should not, on that account, be a jot farther advanced while we have the Turks to contend with; and while they are assured that the Porte will not make peace without their consent, or without stipulating that the preliminary article for terminating the war, shall be the evacuation of Egypt.

Under this point of view, our plan has totally failed; in as much as it can no longer affect the English; and thus, neither as a conquest nor a colony, can there be any farther pretence for keeping possession of Egypt.

But there is yet another consideration; it is, that if we delay entering into a treaty (such is the state of weakness to which we are already reduced), there is reason to fear that we shall be too late; that the remainder of the army will perish, or that we shall be obliged to evacuate the country without any conditions at all: while, on the contrary, we have it at present in out power to make it the price of peace with the Ottoman Empire and the Barbary States, the strengthening our old connections with Constantinople, and resuming in the Levant the exclusive commerce which we once enjoyed.

This treaty, to which the ENGLISH MUST BE ADMITTED AS A PARTY, will be a preparatory step to that peace which it is, at length, more than time to conclude with them. It will infallibly induce Russia to declare war against the Porte, and cause a diversion of the most important kind in our affairs in Europe; we might even hope to regain by it what we have lost in the Mediterranean.

I have the greater confidence in this opinion, because I am persuaded that the English cannot see without some uneasiness, and without a secret kind of jealousy, the progress of the Russians—a progress much more dangerous for them than our continental power, now that our navy is destroyed, and that we have lost our maritime conquests.

The only event which could possibly enable us to preserve Egypt, would be an immediate war between Russia and the Porte. All the Ottoman forces which are marching against us would instantly fly to protect the centre of the empire. In such a case, the Grand Seignior would grant us peace on any terms we might think proper to ask.

But it is probable, that without a treaty of alliance between the French Republic and Russia, which might be useful to us at this moment, but which would certainly be impolitic, this last power will only wait till the Porte shall have made peace with us to declare war against her: for, by fighting against the Turks, we diminish his forces and his means. This is toiling for Russia, who, on her side, unable to make war against the Porte without forcing her to conclude a peace with us, attains her purpose, which is the destruction of that power, just as effectually by making war on the French, whom she knows to be her sole stay and support.

The Ottoman Empire is generally regarded as an old edifice, tottering to its fall. The European powers have long been preparing to divide its scattered fragments, and many politicians conceive that the catastrophe is close at hand. In this supposition, they might think it but right that France should have her share in the spoils; and the part allotted to her is Egypt.

If this fall of the Ottoman Empire (which is very far from being so certain, when we consider the discussions and the variety of oppositions it would produce amongst the great powers of Europe, even among those who might have combined for this very object; when we consider still further, that it will be eternally the interest of France, England, Prussia, and even the Empire, to oppose it); if this fall, I say, should after all take place, France will always be in time to have Egypt. Besides, the French will be invited there by the Turks themselves, whenever the latter find themselves menaced by the Russians, whom they mortally hate.

France is so fine a country; the French are so powerful by their numbers, their riches, and their situation with respect to the other continental powers, that they cannot possibly gain any thing by a total overthrow of the system of Europe; while, at the same time, this overthrow maay give birth to a new and preponderating power, which shall deprive them of all their advantages in the Mediterranean.

Weighing all these circumstances, Citizen Directors, I cannot but conclude that we are too distant, and that events operate too rapidly, to permit us to wait for your orders before we take our resolution; at least we cannot do so without compromising the interests of the Republic, the safety and the honour of the remains of the army.

That we must infallibly evacuate Egypt, establishing, as the price of this sacrifice, a peace, together with all our ancient connections, with the Ottomans and the States of Barbary.

That all which you have now to hope for, whatever may be your views on Egypt, depends upon the present intentions of General Kleber, which are to retard the evacuation as long as possible by the delays which he will endeavour to introduce into the negotiation; if, after all, we are happy enough to be permitted to negotiate:

That finally, if the evacuation should take place without waiting for your orders, it will only be, because it was inevitable; and because, in the state of ignorance in which we all are, respecting the real situation of France, and of Europe, this evacuation was imperiously called for by prudence, and was not inconsistent with our political interests.

Health and respect.