Siege of Acre (1799)


Siege of Acre (1799)

Infobox Military Conflict
conflict=Siege of Acre
partof=the French invasion of Egypt
campaign=


caption=
date=20 March - 21 May, 1799
place=Acre, Israel
casus=
territory=
result=Ottoman-British victory
combatant1=flagicon|Ottoman Empire|1453Ottoman Empire,
combatant2=flagicon|FranceFrench Republic
commander1=Cezzar Ahmet,
William Sidney Smith
commander2=Napoleon Bonaparte
strength1=Unknown
strength2=13,000
casualties1=Unknown
casualties2=2,300 killed,
2,200 wounded or ill
The Siege of Acre of 1799 was an unsuccessful French siege of the Ottoman-defended, walled city of Acre (now Akko in modern Israel) and was the turning point of Napoleon's invasion of Egypt and Syria.

Background

A site of significant strategic importance due to its commanding position on the route between Egypt and Syria, Bonaparte wanted to capture the key port of Acre following his invasion of Egypt. He hoped to incite a Syrian rebellion against the Ottomans and threaten British rule in India.

The Siege

A Royal Navy flotilla under Commodore William Sidney Smith helped to reinforce the Turkish defences and supplied the city with additional cannon manned by sailors and marines. Smith used his command of the sea to capture the French siege artillery being sent by ship from Egypt and to bombard the coastal road from Jaffa.

The French attempted to lay siege on 20 March using only their infantry. Napoleon believed the city would capitulate quickly to him. In correspondence with one of his subordinate officers he voiced his conviction that a mere two weeks would be necessary to capture the linchpin of his conquest of the Holy Land before marching on to Jerusalem.

Smith anchored HMS Tigre and Theseus so their broadsides could assist the defence. Repeated French assaults were driven back. On 16 April a Turkish relief force was fought off at the Mount Tabor. By early May, replacement French siege artillery had arrived overland and a breach was forced in the defences; however, the assault was again repelled and Turkish reinforcements from Rhodes were able to land.

Underestimating the stubborn attitude of the defending forces combined with a British blockade of French supply harbours and harsh weather conditions, Napoleon's forces were left hungry, cold and damp. Plague struck the French camp as a result of the desperate condition of the men had by now lead to the deaths of about 2,000 soldiers. Napoleon Bonaparte retreated two months later on 21 May after a failed final assault on 10 May.

ignificance

In 1805, Napoleon asserted that had he

been able to take Acre [in 1799] , I would have put on a turban, I would have made my soldiers wear big Turkish trousers, and I would have exposed them to battle only in case of extreme necessity. I would have made them into a sacred battalion--my immortals. I would have finished the war against the Turks with Arabic, Greek, and Armenian troops. Instead of a battle in Moravia, I would have won a battle at Issus, I would have made myself emperor of the East, and I would have returned to Paris by way of Constantinople. [Napoleon Bonaparte, “On Religions” in "The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection from His Written and Spoken Words", ed. J. Christopher Herold (New York: Columbia University Press, 1955), 49.]

References


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