NAVAL GENERAL SERVICE 1793-1840, 2 CLASPS, ACRE 30 MAY 1799, EGYPT ‘ADAM SAMPSON’
Ordinary Seaman Adam Sampson, served aboard H.M.S. Tigre, commanded by the famed Sir Sydney Smith, during the epic 2 month siege of Acre in 1799. Described as his first decisive defeat on land, the outcome of the siege forced Napoleon’s withdrawal back to Egypt and ultimately determined his ambitions for further conquest in North Africa. Sampson would continue to serve aboard Tigre during the British landings and campaign in Egypt, that finally defeated Napoleon in that theatre. Honoured on his return to Britain in 1801, Napoleon, reminiscing later in his life, said of Smith’s actions at Acre; "That man made me miss my destiny".
The significant strategic importance of the walled city of Acre itself (today Akko in northern Israel) was due to its commanding position on the route between Egypt and Syria. With a French attack on the city imminent, Sir Sidney Smith with the two 74’s; H.M.S. Tigre, Theseus, and the 20 gun Alliance, anchored off Acre on 15 March 1799 to assist in the Ottoman defence. Two days later the French army, led by Napoleon himself, arrived and proceeded to invest the town. Over the following two months, the French made repeated and furious assaults on the town, each time being repulsed, Napoleon finally calling of the siege on 20 May 1799. During this siege itself, the crew from Smith’s ships were employed in a variety of roles. From the start, he landed men and guns to defend the city itself, landing addition forces when need, leading his men from the front during sorties and attacks. He anchored Tigre and Theseus, one on each side of the town, so their broadsides could assist the defence and armed captured gunboats to harass the enemy.
French losses during the siege were reportedly in the region of 4500 men, or half their number. Ottoman, casualties were thought to be around 2300, though may well have been a fair number higher. Casualties were also heavy in Smith’s command, Tigre, Theseus, Alliance sustaining 170 in action. Of this number, 146 Officers and ratings/marines of Tigre became casualties; 17 killed, 48 wounded, 4 drowned, and 77 prisoners, a very large number for a ship with a crew of approximately 600. A further 87 killed and wounded by an accidental explosion of ammunition aboard Theseus, which severely damaged the ship itself.
Whether Sampson was among this number is unknown, however it would be worth tracing him on Tigre’s musters to see if this reveals anything and also to trace his full service.
James’s Naval History of Great Britain gives an extensive description of the siege of Acre:
A print out of the above is included with the research.
Approximately 40 clasps were issued for ‘Acre 30 May 1799’, 12 to Officers and 28 to non Officers. Of the latter, just five medals are known of outside museums.
Condition EF, ex Phillips Collection 1925; Spink, December 1950. Sold with copy medal rols and research.