The Battle of Aboukir - Egypt - “The Bulldogs of the Army”
Unit/ Formation: Royal Marines
Period/ Conflict: French Revolutionary Wars
Date/s: 8 - 12th March 1801
The Battle of Abukir of 8 March 1801 was the second pitched battle of the French campaign in Egypt and Syria to be fought at Abu Qir on the Mediterranean coast, near the Nile Delta.
The landing of the British expeditionary force under Sir Ralph Abercromby was intended to defeat or drive out an estimated 21,000 remaining troops of Napoleon's ill-fated invasion of Egypt. The fleet commanded by Baron Keith included seven ships of the line, five frigates and a dozen armed corvettes. With the troop transports, it was delayed in the bay for several days by strong gales and heavy seas before disembarkation could proceed.
Under General Friant, some 2000 French troops and ten field guns in high positions took a heavy toll of a large British force disembarking from a task-force fleet in boats, each carrying 50 men to be landed on the beach. The British then rushed and overwhelmed the defenders with fixed bayonets and secured the position, enabling an orderly landing of the remainder of their 17,500-strong army and its equipment. The skirmish was a prelude to the Battle of Alexandria and resulted in British losses of 730 killed and wounded or missing. The French withdrew, losing at least 300 dead or wounded and eight pieces of cannon.[
The Royal Marines detachments of about 30 ships were formed into a battalion of just over 600 strong (all ranks), and landed on the Saturday 12th March.
This battalion was attached to the 3rd Brigade under Lord Cavan. on the 13th the British advanced in two lines with the object of turning the French Flank.
The Marines owing to their too great eagerness to get to close quarters with the enemy, suffered severe loss. Both officers and men greatly distinguished themselves, and charged the French so repeatedly and with such determination and gallantry that they earned for themselves the cognomen of “The Bulldogs of the Army”.