The Battle of Chobrakit
As Napoleon traveled from Alexandria to Cairo, his troops were attacked by the Mamluks at Chobrakit. The French army formed battalion squares. The Mamluks, who looked magnificent with their colourful costumes, medieval armour and beautiful horses, circled the army, sometimes galloping and sometimes pacing. They made some ridiculous attempts to break the squares but were unsuccessful. French soldiers were unimpressed. ‘Against a disciplined army, it was only ridiculous,’ recalled an officer. It was true that with their antiquated weapons – axes, bows and arrows, the Mamluks were no match for French muskets.
The encounter enabled Napoleon to practice tactics he would later employ successfully in subsequent battles but it did nothing to discourage the Mamluks. ‘Let the French come. We will crush them beneath our horses’ hooves, we will ride through them and severe their heads from their bodies like watermelons,’ they threatened.