8-19 February, 1799
towards Syria, the French army under General Jean-Baptiste
Kleber found its passage blocked near the border by
a fort at El Arish.
garrison, some 2500 determined defenders, refused to surrender
and sat tight within the fort while the French captured
its surrounds and brought up cannons with which to blast
open a breach.
8-pounders did little damage to the strong walls and when
an impatient Napoleon Bonaparte
arrived to discover the cause of the delay to the advance,
he ordered heavier guns into action.
two days under a ferocious bombardment the defenders finally
agreed to give up. Despite giving their parole, most of
them then returned to fight Bonaparte at Jaffa.
siege of El Arish cost Bonaparte 10 precious days and had
allowed his enemies time to fully prepare a defence at the
formidable fortress at Acre.
Bonaparte's chances of victory were now virtually destroyed.