Thursday 1 March 2018

Alexandria 1798 - The bombardment

Historical background

In 1798 Napoleon started his Egyptian expedition - partly to explore the Egyptian antiquities but most of all to crush the British supremacy in the Mediterranean. The Ottoman troops in Egypt had nothing to oppose the French army and soon Napoleon was in possession of Egypt and part of Syria. But the British Navy succeeded in cutting Napoleon's line of communication and this left him stranded in the Orient. Silently he withdraw from the army and returns to France in 1799.

The moment depicted in the diorama is a French artillery piece in front of the walls of Alexandria. Before the French could create massive siege lines the siege was already over - it lasted only one day. The show of force was too much for the Ottomans. That was a real luck for the French as their uniforms were made for much cooler climates and the first victims of heat stroke occured very soon and in alarming numbers.

The diorama

The figures and the gun are from Esci. The figures are all in very static and not very lifelike poses, so much conversions had to be done. As the gun is very simplified (a problem with must soft plastic artillery) some details had to be added to achieve a more realistic look. The broken wall is made of plaster, the palm tree of wire, cord, putty, copy paper and paint.

Photos (click to enlarge)

Video (YouTube)


Fabrice Delaitre - St. Jean-d'Acre, le Mont Thabor 1799
Michael Barthorp - Napoleon's Egyptian campaigns 1798-1801 (Osprey Men-at-Arms 79)
Andre Jouineau - Officers and soldiers of French Artillery (1)
Robert Wilkinson-Latham - Napoleon's artillery (Osprey Men-at-Arms 54)
Philip Haythornthwaite - Napoleon's specialist troops (Osprey Men-at-Arms 199)
Terence Wise - Artillery Equipments of the Napoleonic wars (Osprey Men-at-Arms 96)
Rene Chartrand - Napoleon's guns 1792-1815: 1 field artillery (Osprey New Vanguard 66)

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