On March 18, 1799, a strange thing happened in the Near East backwater of present day Israel. In the years that followed the birth of Jesus, the rise of Christianity, and the fall of Byzantium, things in the region had quieted down considerably since the Mohammedan conquests (apart from the Crusades).
Thus, it was with considerable alarm and a good deal of astonishment that Ahmed Pasha al-Jazzar, the geriatic governor of Sidon, who expected nothing more strenuous from a spring morning in the Middle East than to answer the Muezzin’s call to prayer, awoke instead to find a French army priming its muskets on his doorstep. The commander of those troops was the gifted, 28-year-old Napoleon Bonaparte.
As you’ll read inside Robert Heege’s fascinating feature, “Napoleon’s Dramatic Rescue,” it was quite a surprise that Bonaparte even found himself in the region. The French radicals of the late 18th Century had spent the better part of the previous 10 years indulging in what might be described as a full reordering of society. Nearly everything that had previously been the standard had to go: the number of days in the week was changed from 7 to 10, Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were sent to the guillotine, and when the radical revolutionaries ran out of aristocrats to behead, they started turning on each other.
How the French, only just beginning to emerge from the shadow of bloody revolution that had gripped France, came to find themselves fielding troops to this distant desert land is a story in itself. And you can read all about it in the July 2014 issue of Military Heritage Magazine.
This is just one of the many features you’ll find inside our most recent issue. Others include:
“Doughboy’s Bloody Baptism”
In their first major battles of World War I, American Expeditionary Force troops helped blunt multiple offensives launched by the German Army in the spring of 1918.
“Soldiers of God”
Established to protect and care for pilgrims in the Holy Land, the Knights Templar and Knights Hospitaller also defended the crusader states.
“Like a Picture of Hell”
At Chancellorsville in May 1863, Joe Hooker conceded the initiative to the Confederates; Robert E. Lee then made the most of the opportunity.
“Manstein’s Victorious Panzers”
In February 1943, German Field Marshal Erich von Manstein unleashed his elite panzer units in a devastating counterattack against Russian forces on World War II’s Eastern Front.
What do you think about Bonaparte’s excursions into the Middle East? Please let us know what you think about these and other stories in the comments section of our website.