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Previous chapters have claimed that the challenges of military medical practice in foreign climates were significant factors in the production of the belief that military medicine was specialized and distinct from civilian practice. This chapter will investigate that process through a detailed examination of the Egyptian campaign and its consequences in Britain.
The Egyptian campaign began in July 1798 when Napoleon and his ‘Army of the Orient’ arrived there with the intention of conquering the region and then making for British possessions in India. Although initially successful, a series of defeats in 1799 prevented the French army from achieving its goal. Unable to return to France after Nelson famously destroyed the French fleet at Abukir Bay, the army was abandoned by Napoleon who slipped back to Paris in August that year. Under General Kleber and (after Kleber's assassination) General Menou, the French army remained in Egypt for another two years. In 1801, the British sent Lt General Sir Ralph Abercrombie with 16,000 men to remove the threat presented to India by the remaining French troops in Egypt. Additional British and Indian troops were sent from India. After a series of engagements, during which Abercrombie was killed and Major General Hutchinson took charge of the British forces, the French surrendered and towards the end of 1801 both armies began their journeys home.
This campaign has been described by some historians as not only geographically, but also militarily, peripheral to the Wars.
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