|Naval History of Great Britain - Vol III
||British and French Fleets - Mediterranean
until the evening of the 7th. Preparations were instantly commenced; and at 2 a.m. on the 8th the troops began embarking in the boats, the total number of which was upwards of 320. At 3 a.m. the signal was made for the boats to rendezvous near the brig-sloop Mondovi, Captain John Stewart, at anchor about a gun-shot from the shore ; but, such was the extent of the anchorage occupied by so numerous a fleet, and so great the distance of many of the ships from any one given point, that it was not until 9 A.M. that the signal could be made for the boats to advance towards the shore.
This was then accomplished, under the direction of Captain Cochrane of the Ajax, assisted by Captain James Stevenson of the Europa, George Scott of the Stately, John Larmour of the Diadem, Charles Apthorp of the Druid, and John Morrison of the Thisbe, and by the several agents for transports present in the fleet. The right flank of the boat-flotilla was protected by the armed cutter Cruelle, Lieutenant David M'Gie, and gun-vessels Dangéreuse and Janizary; and the left by the armed cutter Entreprenante, schooner Malta, and gun-vessel Negresse, besides two armed launches, one on each flank, in place of the Turkish gun-boats, which, as already mentioned, had parted from the fleet. The launches, containing the field-artillery as well as a detachment of seamen to co-operate with the army, moved under the direction of their commanding officer, Captain Sir William Sidney Smith, assisted by Captains Peter Ribouleau of the Astræa, Daniel Oliver Guion of the Eurus, John G. Saville of the Experiment, John Burn of the Blonde, and James Hillyar of the Niger. The bomb-vessels Tartarus and Fury, Captains Thomas Hand and Richard Curry, were advantageously posted for throwing shot and shells at the enemy, and the sloops Peterel, Cameleon, and Minorca, Captains Charles Inglis, Edward O'Bryen, and George Miller, were moored as near as possible to the beach, with their broadsides sprung towards it.
The force which the French were enabled to bring to the spot, to oppose the disembarkation of the British troops and seamen, in number just 7000 men, consisted of the whole garrison of Alexandria (except the invalids and seamen), amounting, according to the French accounts, to 1500 infantry and 180 cavalry, exclusive of several detachments from Rosetta and elsewhere, numbering altogether at least 2500 men. These French troops were under the command of General Friant; who, with great judgment, had stationed a part of his men with 15 pieces of heavy artillery, upon an almost inaccessible hill, which commanded the whole space of disembarkation, and others, with field-pieces and mortars, in the different excellent positions which the ground afforded.
No sooner did the boats arrive near to the shore, than a heavy fire of grape-shot and musketry from behind the sand-hills seemed to threaten them with destruction, while the castle of
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