27o PICTURESQUE PALESTINE.
defeated host, the terrified horses vainly struggling in the swamp and treading down the
fugitives, till the general himself was fain to abandon his chariot, and fly on foot and
unattended, by one of the paths behind Nazareth towards the Northern Hazor.
Three thousand two hundred years of history had passed and gone, when that plain
saw a similar battle between hosts almost as unequal in numbers, if not in equipment, with
an identical result. Little more than four miles to the north-west we may detect a mound
in the plain on the direct road to Nazareth, covered with ruins, and on the other side of it a
small swamp, sometimes a lake, the resort of wild fowl, where flocks of the stilted plover
daintily step. The mound with a few huts behind it clustered round a well is known as
El Fuleh, the " Bean," and marks the site of the Crusading castle of Faba, an important
garrison of the Knights Templar, the foundations of which are still plainly visible. Round
this spot in the beginning of April, 1799, the Turks had collected a vast army--Mamelukes
from Egypt, Janissaries from Damascus, regulars from Aleppo, with the whole Mohammedan
population of Syria, and countless hordes of Arab cavalry, which even outnumbered the foot
levies, from the whole east of Jordan and Northern Arabia—for the purpose of forcing
Napoleon to raise the siege of Acre, then held by the aid of Sir Sydney Smith. The
Turkish general was in the same position as Sisera. He was compelled to camp in the
plain, or at least to hold his cavalry there for the sake of water. The little handful of
French held, like Barak, the hill country to the north. Junot held Mount Tabor and
Nazareth, other detachments held Cana of Galilee and Safed, while Murat with one
thousand men held the bridge across the Jordan, to intercept the enemy's communications.
Kleber held the supreme command, and, mustering all his troops at Nazareth, marched as far
as Fuleh to the attack. Here he was assailed by fifteen thousand cavalry and as many
infantry. Forming in squares, the French soon were behind ramparts of dead men and horses,
till, after they had held their ground for six hours, Napoleon, who had been working his way
with the besieging army from before Acre by the edge of the southern hills, came suddenly
down from Taanach and Megiddo, and by his dashing charges decided the fate of the day.
The Turkish cavalry was driven into the swamps of the head-waters of the Kishon,
in which Sisera's chariots had stuck fast, and they then fled towards Mount Tabor and
the Jordan, by the route that Sisera's fugitives must have followed towards Harosheth ;
but, finding Murat holding the bridge (Jisr Mejami'a), endeavoured to ford the swollen
Jordan, in which numbers perished, and the army, "countless as the sands of the sea,
utterly dispersed. Napoleon returned by the banks of the Kishon to resume the siege
Acre; but soon found his victory a barren one, and, baffled by a few hundred men, was
to lead his army back by the coast to Jaffa and Egypt. We cannot forget how constant ]
in after life he recurred to the events of that April on this plain, and bitterly exclaim
that here Sir Sydney Smith had marred his destiny. He held, with other military geogra
phers, that through this plain and across the Jordan was the natural access to Damasc
from Damascus to the Euphrates, and thence to India.