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"Alexandria 1801,- first defeat of French in- how long?" Topic

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42flanker24 Mar 2020 10:35 a.m. PST

Greetings all, Hope your keeping well and sane (Ha! relatively. This is TMP)

Reading a regimental museum site earlier today, no names,no pack drill, I came upon the assertion- ?claim- that the British victory at Alexandria in March 1821 inflicted "a significant defeat on the French, the first time for 30 years."

No argument that a defeat was inflicted but first 'for 30 years'? By my calculation that would have been since 1771, which as a date seems neither here nor there. or am I missing something?

My guess would have been that the last defeat -on land- would have been around the time of Wilhelmsthal in 1762, admittedly an allied effort under Brunswick. Otherwise- Montreal in 1760,perhaps? Either way, a good forty-odd years until the next signifcant British victory.

Then again there were several swingeing reverses inflicted in the 1793-94 campaign, again with allied forces and under allied command, and in the end not decisive. Valenciennes?

What do others think?.

PS I've just remembered the battle of La Vigie on St Lucia in 1778. Much celebrated by those engaged, (not least the 5th Northumberland with their feathers) but, again perhaps not that significant, ultimately, in the seesaw and yo-yo-ing that took place in the contest for possession of the sugar islands during the C18th- and not a theatre with which I am familiar.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2020 10:45 a.m. PST

Is it possible they meant that particular Regiment?

Or more likely, they just got it wrong. Websites for Regimental museums can be disappointing. The experience of my collecting community is that accurate information can sometimes be got from a curator via e-mail ,but usually requires a visit to view records and collections in person.

kustenjaeger24 Mar 2020 11:59 a.m. PST


I suspect the writer was confused.



42flanker24 Mar 2020 12:48 p.m. PST

'wrong' and 'confused'- well, I didnt want to be unkind but the choice of '30 years' does seem to have been quite random.

Incidentally, the statement in question was made in relation to the 28th (according to this source, "Due to their steadiness and their devastating volleys they managed to turn the battle at a crucial time" tell that to the 42nd, 56th and 96th) but the comment was definitely in the context of a national achievement.

So, when _had_ the last signficant defeat been inflicted upon the French prior to the battle of Alexandria in 1801?

Brownand24 Mar 2020 12:53 p.m. PST

or ignorant

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2020 1:09 p.m. PST

1798, the British (I am assuming French defeated by British context) defeated an ad hoc French Division who were supporting Irish rebels in Ireland.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP24 Mar 2020 3:00 p.m. PST

Suvorov will complain.

ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore24 Mar 2020 3:28 p.m. PST

What about the great cavalry successes at Villers-en-Cauchies, Beaumont and Willems in the 1793-4 campaign?

42flanker25 Mar 2020 3:26 a.m. PST

Well, indeed Seneffe, as I referred to above, "several swingeing reverses inflicted in the 1793-94 campaign" but "again with allied forces and under allied command, and in the end not decisive."

Also, we might consider the siege and capture of Valenciennes.

However, apart from the possibility that the authors of the caption that initially piqued my curiousity were unaware of of the fleeting successes in Austrian Flanders during the spring 1794, these might not have been considered 'significant' since they were part of a notoriously unsuccessful and costly campaign.

42flanker25 Mar 2020 3:28 a.m. PST

Iron Duke, I think the fight with with the French contingent in 1798 was a fairly perfunctory affair, was it not?

Robert le Diable25 Mar 2020 9:53 a.m. PST

"French Contingent" would be preferable to "Division", I think, in that Humbert had only about a thousand all told. Ballinamuck was indeed very quickly concluded, at least with regard to what regulars were there. For the Irish themselves the killing went on for rather longer.
Side issue: General Humbert's force included eighty Dragoons. Has anyone encountered any evidence of these soldiers ever acquiring horses and acting as Cavalry during the brief campaign?

IronDuke596 Supporting Member of TMP25 Mar 2020 10:16 a.m. PST

42 perfunctory, I think not, it caused great concern in Britain hence the rapid deployment of regulars to Ireland.

40,000 United Irishmen (rebels), 4,100 French regulars into two brigades supported by 10 French ships versus 40,000 British militia, 25,000 Yeomanry, 30,000 British regulars and 1,000 Hessians.

42flanker25 Mar 2020 1:24 p.m. PST

Iron Duke, I wasn't referring to the United Irishmen rebellion per se, but the nature of the French intervention.

In August 1798, rather late in the day, a force of 1000 of French landed in county Mayo, helped inflict a humiliating defeat on local militia at Castlebar, then were forced to surrender, after which they were repatriated. A larger force arrived off Donegal in October but were intercepted by the Royal Navy and never even made it ashore.

Just as well the enterprises failed, but hardly the stuff of glory.

Robert le Diable25 Mar 2020 1:24 p.m. PST

IronDuke596, Where are you getting these figures for the French? Perhaps that's for the invasion planned for 1796, that was scattered by storms off Bantry Bay? In 1798, only three ships put into Killala's broad bay. Nevertheless, I'd agree strongly that the Risings of 1798 (they weren't as well co-ordinated as might have been, some leaders having been arrested) were seen as very serious by those who ruled the British State, and it would be accurate to say that every means of subduing the people of this colony was employed by these rulers both in 1790s and throughout the following century.

Robert le Diable25 Mar 2020 1:29 p.m. PST

Just as well for the British State, 42flanker, not for the Irish.

ReallySameSeneffeAsBefore25 Mar 2020 3:09 p.m. PST

42Flanker- good points in response to my post.

42flanker25 Mar 2020 4:08 p.m. PST

Robert, this whole topic is about victory from the British national perspective.

As it was, the French intervention hardly promised much for the Irish, who had been doing well enough cutting each other up without their assistance. A more effective intervention would only have prolonged the agony.

Robert le Diable25 Mar 2020 5:18 p.m. PST

Fair enough re. the whole topic, true.
Nevertheless, the business about people cutting one another up is, like so much else, deserving of more information than is generally/widely known. Not the place at all for any more, and I've not any wish to divert things (though a 1796/98 "what if…" thread might be interesting re. "What might have been the course of the entire nineteenth century…"). With regard to the "thirty years" claim,I'd guess it's just the result of inadequate research, a superficial approach which is disappointing. Good Luck.

Historydude1829 Mar 2020 8:02 p.m. PST

The Battle of the Saintes in 1782 was a really big defeat for the French at the hands of the British. But it was a naval battle so that 30 year claim might be only land battles. If not the Battle of the Nile in 1798 would count. Also the battles the British won in 1798 during the Irish Rebellion when French troops landed in Ireland and fought alongside the Irish rebels. Or you could also include Savannah in 1779 which saw large numbers of French troops fighting side by side with the American army in a costly and failed frontal attack on the British positions.

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