Napoleon’s fleet arrives off Alexandria
Napoleon landed on the beach eight miles from Alexandria, telling his troops that ‘every soldier who enters the houses of the inhabitants to steal horses will be punished.’ Napoleon hoped to gain trust of the inhabitants and that included respecting their religion. ‘Do not contradict them. Deal with them as we dealt with the Jews and the Italians. The Roman legions protected all religions.’ He added that the first town they would enter was founded by Alexander the Great, a fact that clearly meant a lot to him.
French troops captured Alexandria the next day by storm. During his week-long stay, Napoleon supervised the disembarkation of his army, established a hospital for the wounded, disarmed the local population, made contact with the French merchants in Egypt, captured near-by Rosetta and wrote an anti-Mamluk letter to the Turkish Pasha in Cairo: ‘You know that France is the only ally that sultan has in Europe.’