Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 1 Clasp: Egypt, awarded to Private John Shipley, 10th Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot, who came from Wells, Derbyshire, and having enlisted in March 1799, went on to see service with the forces under General Sir Ralph Abercromby in Egypt between December 1800 through and May 1801, including the Battle of Alexandria on 21st March 1801, when the French forces under General Menou were defeated. Shipley later saw service in the East Indies and in the Peninsula War in Spain during 1812 and 1813, though he was not present in any of the major actions.
Military General Service Medal 1793-1814, 1 Clasp: Egypt; (J. SHIPLEY, 10TH. FOOT)
Condition: edge bruise at 5 o’clock on obverse rim, Good Very Fine.
John Shipley was born in Wells, Derbyshire, and having worked as a cutler, originally enlisted into the British Army when aged 20 at Lincoln on 7th March 1799, joining as a Private the 10th Lincolnshire Regiment of Foot. As such he saw service with his regiment against the French in Egypt from 5th December 1800 through to 4th May 1801, and would have fought in the Battle of Alexandria on 21st March 1801 as part of the forces under General Sir Ralph Abercromby engaged with the French army under General Menou. This action, also known as the Battle of Canope, took place near the ruins of Nicopolis, on the narrow spit of land between the sea and Lake Abukir, along which the British troops had advanced towards Alexandria after the actions of Abukir on 8th March and Mandora on 13th March.
The British position on the night of 20 March extended across the isthmus, the right wing resting upon the ruins of Nicopolis and the sea, the left on the lake of Abukir and the Alexandria canal. The line faced generally south-west towards the city, the reserve division under Major-General Sir John Moore on the right, the Foot Guards brigade in the centre, and three other brigades on the left. In the second line were two infantry brigades and the cavalry, who were dismounted.
On 21st March, the troops were under arms at 3 a.m., and at 3:30 a.m. the French attacked and drove in the outposts. The French army now moved forward with great rapidity in their usual formation of columns. The brunt of the attack fell upon Moore's command, and in particular upon the 28th Foot. The British repulsed the first shock but a French column penetrated in the dark between the front and rear wing of the 42nd Foot. A confused fight ensued in the ruins, in which the French troops were all either killed or captured with the 42nd Foot taking their colour. Other regiments that assisted in the overthrow of the French column were the 23rd, 40th and 58th, together with Stuart's Menorca Regiment.
In a second attack the enemy's cavalry inflicted severe losses on the 42nd. The front and rear ranks of the 28th were simultaneously engaged, whereby the soldiers received the order "Front rank stay as you are, rear rank about turn" and in commemoration the regiment later adopted a second badge, the 'Back Number,' worn at the back of their head-dress. Sir Ralph Abercromby was here engaged in personal conflict with some French dragoons, and about this time received a mortal wound, though he remained on the field and in command to the end. The attack on the centre was repulsed by the cool and steady fire of the Guards, and the left wing maintained its position with ease, but the French cavalry for the second time came to close quarters with the reserve.
About half-past eight the combat began to wane, and the last shots were fired at ten. The real attack had been pressed home on the British right, and the History of the Queen's Royal West Surrey Regiment gives no undue praise to the regiments of the reserve in saying that "the determined attack would have been successful against almost any other troops." Technically, the details of the action show that, while not markedly better in a melee than the war-seasoned French, the British infantry had in its volleys a power that no other troops then existing possessed, and it was these volleys that decided the day even more than the individual stubbornness of the men.
The 42nd, twice charged by cavalry, had but 13 men wounded by the sabre. Part of the French losses were caused by the gunboats which lay close inshore and cannonaded the left flank of the French columns, and by a heavy naval gun which was placed in battery near the position of 28th March.
In the aftermath of the battle, the British advanced upon Alexandria and laid siege to it. The French garrison eventually surrendered on 2nd September 1801.
Shipley who was posted to India from Egypt on 10th May 1801 went on to see further service in the East Indies and subsequently in the Peninsula War in Spain during 1812 and 1813, though he was not present in any of the major actions, and was eventually discharged at Woolwich on 13th May 1822 in consequence of ‘chronic rheumatism since employed in Spain during 1812 and 1813’.
In total 57 men of the 10th Foot later claimed the Military General Service Medal with single clasp Egypt, out of 892 medals issued with this single clasp.