Siege of El Arish

Arish is the capital of the North Sinai Governorate in north-east Egypt

In the Siege of El Arish French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte defeated Ottoman forces in the fortress in an eleven-day siege. It fell on February 19, 1799.


French take control of El Arish

January 2, 1799: Jezzar Pasha sent 4000 soldiers and 3 cannons, under the command of Abdullah Pasha of Damascus, to secure Kalaat El Arish. Upon reaching the village, the group took a position in the village and its fort. At the same time, Reynier and his forces were in Katieh Fort, finishing their fortification.

February 8, 1799: Reynier's division reached Masoodiah, where French soldiers captured a Mamluk runner who told them that El Arish was now under Turkish control. Reynier sent a courier to Bonaparte calling for immediate reinforcements and took position on a sand hill near El Arish. In response, the Turkish army moved into a nearby palm forest and obtained supplies and 12 cannons. Their cavalry begin attacking the French. After half an hour of artillery fire, Reynier sent the 85th demi-brigade to take the village El Arish. The Turkish defenders of the village escaped into their fort, and their cavalry withdrew on the road to Gaza under the cover of a defile.

Blockade of Turkish fort

At around 11:00pm the main Turkish forces took a position on the right side of the defile.

February 12, 1799: Kleber's division reached Kalaat El Arish, and his forces began a blockade of the Turkish fort. Reynier's division moved into position in the palm forest near the defile.

February 14, 1799: Reynier's forces began an assault on the Turkish camp, which they successfully captured.

French siege of fortification

1,000 soldiers under Turkish commander Ibrahim Nizam were still inside the fort. After clearing captured material Reynier established a camp from which he blockaded the fort. Meanwhile, the main French forces arrived in Kalaat El Arish.

February 17, 1799: General Louis Caffarelli started engineering work.
February 18–19, 1799: French began artillery fire on the Turkish fortification.
February 20, 1799: The French began their assault. After capturing the fort, the French repaired the fortification.

Coordinates: 31°07′56″N 33°48′12″E / 31.1321°N 33.8034°E / 31.1321; 33.8034

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