Pyramids, Battle of the


Pyramids, Battle of the

▪ Egyptian history
 (July 21, 1798), military engagement in which Napoleon Bonaparte (Napoleon I) invented his one significant contribution to tactics, the massive divisional square; it was fought during his Egyptian campaign near Embabeh (Imbābah), on the west bank of the Nile River. Napoleon's 25,000-man Army of Egypt faced perhaps 40,000 Egyptians led by Murād Bey. The Egyptians were concentrated near Embabeh, with the ancient pyramids of Giza on their left flank. Most of the Egyptian army was composed of ragtag infantry; their only reliable force was the 6,000-man Mamlūk cavalry. A larger Egyptian force under Ibrāhīm Bey was camped on the east bank of the Nile and remained spectators to the battle. Napoleon formed his forces in five divisional squares. Each was six ranks of infantry deep on all sides and protected cavalry and transport in their centres. These squares could move or fight in any direction. They effectively repulsed the wild massed charges of the Mamlūk horsemen. The French then stormed the Egyptian camp and dispersed their army with only 300 casualties to themselves. After the battle, additional large numbers of disorganized Egyptian infantry were killed, captured, or dispersed.

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