"French Rout English Fleet at
Alexandria" by Jeff Provine
says: we're very pleased to present the thirteenth story from Jeff
Provine's excellent blog
This Day in
Alternate History Please note that the opinions expressed in this post
do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
with France under constant bombardment in the Revolutionary Wars as
seemingly all of the European Crowns turned against the upstart Republic,
General Napoleon Bonaparte launched his Egyptian campaign in an effort to
put pressure on India and, hopefully, draw Britain out of the war.
His fleet sailed south disguising its agenda, conquering Malta and moving
rapidly toward its final destination of Alexandria. While the fleet under
Admiral François-Paul Brueys d'Aigalliers anchored in Aboukir Bay,
Napoleon began his conquest with his land armies. Brueys supported
Napoleon with naval bombardments, but by July 27 Napoleon was eager for
the admiral to move on to better harbors. He dispatched a courier to
Brueys ordering him to move to Corfu in Greece to prepare for campaigns
against the Ottomans.
A new story by Jeff ProvineAs the fleet left
sight of the shore of Egypt, it came upon the British fleet under Admiral
Nelson that had been pursuing them throughout the Mediterranean. With
little time to maneuver, both admirals threw their fleets against one
another. The more daring Nelson split his fleet, hoping to achieve a
crossfire, but the moving French managed to stay beside the British ships,
trading blows. The battle lasted until after dark, when the English began
to move away.
While tactically indecisive itself, the battle would be proclaimed a
French victory. Without many harbors to support them, the British fleet
would retreat out of the Mediterranean. Worse, the brave Admiral Nelson
would be mortally wounded, struck down by French snipers from the rigging.
The battered French fleet would regroup with other ships, building up the
force that would later destroy the Ottoman navy and establish French
dominance over the Mediterranean.
Napoleon, using easy supply trains across Mediterranean waters, conquered
Egypt and moved northward through Judea and Syria. In 1800, he marched on
Asia Minor, beginning a string of battles that would finally dethrone the
Ottoman Sultan and break the empire into small protectorates of France. In
1802, Britain had hopes of establishing a Second Coalition with Austria,
but the Austrian emperors, now free to dominate the Balkans, joined with
their former enemies, the French.
Meanwhile, Napoleon continued east through Persia. Many began to fear his
egotism as he spoke of himself as the new Alexander, but his victories
could not be dismissed. Some called for his return to France, but Napoleon
felt confident to press to India, just as his militaristic predecessor had
done some two thousand years before.
Britain continued the war alone for three years, but as Napoleon conquered
the Indus and headed toward lower India, they sued for peace. At the
Treaty of Trafalgar in 1805, establishing in writing the French dominance
of the Mediterranean that had been maintained by battle for years, the war
came to an end. Napoleon seemed ravenous for more conquest, and the
government feared he would turn on France itself. Instead, they sent him
on a sort of exile to be the military governor of the huge tract Louisiana
in North America, newly won back from the Spanish in the Third Treaty of
Napoleon would solidify his command in New Orleans and launch expeditions
of exploration and settlement into the countryside. Friction would build
between the French and the Americans, who, under President Thomas
Jefferson, had purchased shipping rights in the Mississippi as a shared
border. Finally, in 1812, war would be declared as Indians in Tecumseh's
War were believed by Americans to be supplied by Napoleon.
The frontier war was brutal, and the naval battles in the Gulf and
Caribbean devastated both countries' western Atlantic fleets. Napoleon
knew he did not have enough troops for a wide front, so he decided to
build up a Grande Arm?e and march up the Ohio River Valley with the final
goal of Washington, D.C. The gamble would prove a blunder as American
civilians and soldiers alike would plague the French with snipers and
guerrilla combat. Before his planned crossing of the Appalachians (perhaps
to match another hero, Hannibal), Napoleon decided to turn back.
The final battle of the War of 1812 was near New Orleans, where Col.
Andrew Jackson marched to take the nearly unguarded capital. Napoleon
raced back, rallied his men, and counterattacked in another gamble that
would fail as Jackson's troops hid behind wagons and trees (fighting
"without honor" as Americans were known to do). Artillery seemingly
disintegrated the American force, but the stalwart frontiersmen slipped
behind the French and captured Napoleon in his command tent.
The war ended with the Treaty of New Orleans, where France would surrender
its Louisiana colony and Americans pay reparations for property and life
lost to a total of 78 million francs (15 million dollars). The embarrassed
Napoleon would be sent to Haiti as governor without arms, and he would die
in 1821, some say of a broken heart.
says in reality, the courier sent to Admiral Brueys would be slain by
Bedouin, never to arrive. The French fleet was anchored still in Aboukir
Bay, hoping to be protected by shoals and forts, but the daring Nelson
maneuvered to catch them in a devastating crossfire. Without his fleet,
Napoleon's Egyptian Campaign would eventually crumble, but not before he
would return to France to begin a career giving up colonial conquests and
instead building an empire from Europe itself.
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