Battle of the Pyramids, 21st July 1798 (Egypt)

Battle that followed soon after the War of the First Coalition. After landing and capturing Alexandria in early July Napoleon advanced towards Cairo and within sight of the Pyramids with the Egyptian capital only four miles away he fought his first major battle against the Mamelukes. The battle was a clash between a modern European Army and a medieval Middle Eastern Army. although heavily outnumbered Napoleon realised that the only Egyptian troops of any worth on the battlefield were their cavalry so he arranged his forces in large divisional 'Squares' with the front and rear made up of a demi brigade each (six ranks deep) and the third Demi Brigade of the division making up the two sides of the square. Cavalry and baggage hid within these squares. The French Squares repelled the Mameluke horsemen with artillery fire supporting, French infantry then drove the disorganized Egyptian infantry (Fellahin) away killing several thousand after about an hours fighting. The French losses amounted to about 300 while estimated Egyptian losses were around 4,000-6,000. Seeing the defeat of the Mameluke horse by the French a larger Mameluke army waiting in Cairo dispersed into the desert leaving the capital open to Napoleon . Napoleon made his head quarters in what is now the Helwan-Shepard Hotel

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How to cite this article: Dugdale-Pointon, TDP. (27 December 2000), Battle of the Pyramids, 21st July 1798,

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