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The Baton In The Knapsack: New Light On Napoleon And His Marshals

The Baton In The Knapsack: New Light On Napoleon And His Marshals

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The Baton In The Knapsack: New Light On Napoleon And His Marshals

Lunghezza:
208 pagine
3 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781786253729
Formato:
Libro

Descrizione

THE purpose of this book is to sketch briefly the career of Napoleon, especially his relations with his marshals, and to consider how far the marshals were responsible for the rise of the Napoleonic Empire and how some of them at any rate contributed to its fall.

It was a saying among the rank and file of the armies of revolutionary France that every soldier carried in his knapsack the bâton of a marshal. This was to prove truer than is usual with such dicta; for more than half of Napoleon’s marshals did actually arise from the ranks.

In reviewing the period, the student of history can hardly fail to be fascinated by the deeds of valour casting a halo of romance over the entire epoch and to feel that wars productive of so many heroes can hardly have been fought in vain.

Mechanical inventions have since degraded the art of war, robbed it of all glamour and added greatly to its horrors. Cavalry charges, such as those which proved decisive at Marengo and at Friedland, are now impossible; but, so long as mankind takes any interest in the past, the story of these mighty contests will always stir the imagination and perhaps excite the envy of future generations.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Nov 6, 2015
ISBN:
9781786253729
Formato:
Libro

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The Baton In The Knapsack - Laurence Currie

This edition is published by PICKLE PARTNERS PUBLISHING—www.picklepartnerspublishing.com

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Text originally published in 1934 under the same title.

© Pickle Partners Publishing 2015, all rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise without the written permission of the copyright holder.

Publisher’s Note

Although in most cases we have retained the Author’s original spelling and grammar to authentically reproduce the work of the Author and the original intent of such material, some additional notes and clarifications have been added for the modern reader’s benefit.

We have also made every effort to include all maps and illustrations of the original edition the limitations of formatting do not allow of including larger maps, we will upload as many of these maps as possible.

THE BÂTON IN THE KNAPSACK

NEW LIGHT ON NAPOLEON AND HIS MARSHALS

By

LAURENCE CURRIE

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS 4

ILLUSTRATIONS 5

FOREWORD 6

I — Early Years, Toulon, and Vendémiaire 7

II — The Campaign of Italy 10

III — Egypt and Syria 17

IV — Brumaire and Marengo 21

V — The Consulate 26

VI — The Empire and the Marshals 32

VII — Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland 40

VIII — Spain and Wagram 49

IX — Moscow and Leipzig 62

X — The Campaign of France, the First Abdication, and Elba 74

XI — The Hundred Days and Waterloo 79

XII — St. Helena 89

XIII — Conclusion 92

REQUEST FROM THE PUBLISHER 97

APPENDIX I 98

APPENDIX II — Marshals present at the Principal Napoleonic Battles 100

PORTRAITS 102

ILLUSTRATIONS

Bonaparte as First Consul 

Masséna — From the painting by Isabey in the Museum of Versailles.

Augereau —From the painting by Robert Lefèvre in the Museum of Versailles.

Lannes — From the engraving by G. Kruell, after the painting by Guérin in the Museum of Versailles.

Berthier — From an engraving after the painting by Pajou Fils.

Murat

Bernadotte

Davout — From an engraving after the painting by Gautherot,

Mortier — From an engraving after the painting by Larivière.

Soult — From a lithograph by Delpech, after the painting by Rouillard.

Macdonald — From a lithograph by Delpech.

Marmont — From an engraving after the painting by Muncret.

Ney — From an engraving after the painting by F. Gérard.

Jourdan — After the drawing by Ambroise Tardieu.

St. Cyr — From the painting by Vernet in the Museum of Versailles.

Suchet — From an engraving by R. Muller, after the painting by Guérin in the Museum of Versailles.

FOREWORD

THE purpose of this book is to sketch briefly the career of Napoleon, especially his relations with his marshals, and to consider how far the marshals were responsible for the rise of the Napoleonic Empire and how some of them at any rate contributed to its fall.

It was a saying among the rank and file of the armies of revolutionary France that every soldier carried in his knapsack the bâton of a marshal. This was to prove truer than is usual with such dicta; for more than half of Napoleon’s marshals did actually arise from the ranks.

In reviewing the period, the student of history can hardly fail to be fascinated by the deeds of valour casting a halo of romance over the entire epoch and to feel that wars productive of so many heroes can hardly have been fought in vain.

Mechanical inventions have since degraded the art of war, robbed it of all glamour and added greatly to its horrors. Cavalry charges, such as those which proved decisive at Marengo and at Friedland, are now impossible; but, so long as mankind takes any interest in the past, the story of these mighty contests will always stir the imagination and perhaps excite the envy of future generations.

I — Early Years, Toulon, and Vendémiaire

THE Buonaparte family, of Italian origin, belonged to the class of nobles and a branch of it had settled in Corsica in the sixteenth century. Charles Marie Buonaparte, born 1746, at the age of eighteen married Letitia Ramolini, who was three years younger. The second son, Napoleon, was born at Ajaccio on August 15, 1769. The eldest son, Joseph, the future King of Spain, had been born the previous year and subsequently there were three other sons (Lucien, Louis, King of Holland and Jerome, King of Westphalia) and three daughters (Eliza, Pauline and Caroline, Queen of Naples).

Napoleon appears from the first to have been destined for a military career. After spending two or three months at Autun to learn French, he was sent in 1779 to the military school at Brienne, where he remained five years, and passed thence as a cadet-gentilhomme into the military school of Paris. He was studious and devoured books eagerly. He obtained his commission as a lieutenant in the French artillery in 1785 and was posted to a regiment stationed at Valence. He was subsequently quartered at Lyons, Douai, Paris, Seurre and Auxonne. During this period he was frequently away in Corsica, obtaining leave from his regiment on account of ill health. He wrote at this time Letters on the History of Corsica, The Narrative of the Masked Prophet and other works which display more industry than literary merit.

Corsica, which had been ceded to France by the Genoese Republic in 1768, had been practically independent for thirteen years previous to that date under the dictatorship of Paoli. The latter found himself unable to resist the French, and retired to England, where he spent the next twenty-one years in exile.

Although his family, like almost all the Corsican nobility, was pro-French, the youthful Buonaparte at first threw himself with ardour on the side of the Paolists or self-styled patriots. Paoli had returned to the Island in 1790 after a visit to Paris, where he had been received with enthusiasm; and it seemed as if Corsica would become reconciled to France and the principles of 1789. This prospect, however, was destroyed by the second revolution (August 1792) which brought about the fall of the Monarchy and established the Terror. Buonaparte, who had meanwhile made friends with Salicetti, the French Commissioner, had broken away from Paoli and joined the party that sympathized with the Jacobins of France. The whole Buonaparte family now found it necessary to flee from Corsica; and in June 1793 they arrived at Toulon.

The Girondins had just fallen from power. Civil war had broken out in the south, and Marseilles and Avignon were occupied by the Anti-Jacobins, Buonaparte joined

Carteaux, who commanded the forces of the Convention, and the two towns soon submitted. With the exception of an abortive expedition from Corsica against Sardinia in the winter of 3792-3, this was Buonaparte’s first experience of actual fighting, though he had been present as an eyewitness during the fighting in Paris on August 10th, 1792. At that time he had been dismissed from the army for overstaying his leave, but his commission had been restored to him on August 30th with the rank of captain and with the arrears of pay dating back to February 6th.

Marseilles had hardly fallen when Toulon surrendered to the allied fleets of England, Spain and Naples. It was essential for the French Government to recover this fortress, which was their chief naval base in the Mediterranean. The siege lasted for three months and it was mainly due to the young artillery commander that it was brought to a successful issue. Carteaux had been succeeded by Dugommier, a veteran general of the pre-revolutionary period, who quickly perceived Buonaparte’s abilities and made full use of them.

It was necessary to dislodge the allied fleet; and for this purpose the fort of l’Eguillette, which commanded the harbour, had to be wrested from the enemy. Buonaparte is said to have pointed this out to Dugommier and to have devised the scheme of the attack. He certainly took a prominent part, having a horse killed under him; and it was his guns that, by making the position of the ships untenable, decided the result. After embarking the troops and as many of the French defenders as possible, the allied fleet sailed away. The French ships of war, lying in the harbour, were destroyed by the intrepid action of Sir Sydney Smith, who, five years later, was to thwart Buonaparte’s schemes of Eastern conquest at St. Jean d’Acre. Toulon and Acre were to afford the only occasions on which he met the English personally till he encountered them at Waterloo.

Two future marshals of France (Victor and Marmont) took part in the siege of Toulon and there also the future Emperor met for the first time Duroc, perhaps his only real friend, and Junot, his future comrade in arms.

For his services at Toulon, Bonaparte, who at this time drops the ‘u’ from his name, was created a General of Brigade, He next proceeded to the Army of Italy, of which Dumerbion was at that time in command. Here he must have first met Masséna who commanded a division. But instead of taking part in the fighting, which broke out in July, Bonaparte was sent by the younger Robespierre on a diplomatic mission to Genoa to remonstrate with the Genoese government for allowing the enemies of France to utilize their harbours and territories. He appears to have been quite successful in this first attempt at diplomacy, but almost immediately after his return to the army he was placed under provisional arrest (August 6th) and imprisoned at Fort Carré near Antibes. This temporary setback was due to his friendship with the two Robespierres. It might well have proved fatal if he had been in Paris or its neighbourhood during the days of Thermidor, when the men of the Mountain met their well-merited doom. Bonaparte regained his liberty on August 20th, probably owing to the good offices of Salicetti, now one of the civil representatives with the Army of Italy; but his next adventure resulted in complete failure. On March 3rd, 1795, he embarked on an expedition to recover Corsica, now in the possession of the English. The French fleet lost two ships in an engagement with the enemy and returned defeated.

Early in May, Bonaparte received orders to join the Army of the West as an infantry General of Brigade but, on the pretext of ill-health, he avoided proceeding to the civil war where little glory could be gained. He worked for a time at the War Office and drew up a new plan of campaign for the Army of Italy which gained the approval of Carnot. One more stroke of ill-fortune, at least so it seemed, was now to befall him. He was endeavouring to get himself sent to Constantinople to re-organize the Turkish artillery, when his name was suddenly removed from the list of generals. For a moment it looked as if this might be the end of Bonaparte’s career, but, by a strange irony of fate, it proved to be an unexampled instance of good luck.

The Convention had been recently engaged in drawing up a more permanent form of republican constitution to: Í become known to history as the Directory—by which the; Government was to be conducted by five directors, a council of Ancients and a council of five hundred. One third of the latter body was to be renewed annually; but, in order that there should not be too violent a change, it was decreed that in the first instance two-thirds of the members should be provided by the Convention itself. This proposal excited a storm of opposition; and the malcontents succeeded in winning over the National Guard in support of the sections or wards of the city, which had organized the revolt. The National Guard was nominally some 30,000 strong, but it appears to have been little better than an undisciplined rabble. The troops upon whom the Convention could rely numbered no more than 5,000. General Menou, who first commanded them, was wholly unequal to such a task and, having compromised himself by endeavouring to negotiate with the insurgents, he was arrested and replaced by Barras, who was more of a politician than a soldier. He had recourse at once to Bonaparte, who was nominated second in command and given a free hand to do whatever might be necessary. Murat, who now appears for the first time in association with his future brother-in-law, secured all the available guns; and no one knew better than Bonaparte how to use them. The street fighting was confined to the afternoon of the 13th Vendémiaire (October 5th) and little more than two hundred were killed; but all reflecting persons perceived that the hour had brought forth the man.

Bonaparte, in his report of the fighting, was careful to give all the credit of the arrangements to Barras. Indeed, at no time in his subsequent career does he seem to have looked back upon the incident with satisfaction. Perhaps, as the child of Revolution, he may have experienced a feeling akin to parricide. Yet it was probably the most beneficent action of his life, for not only did it preserve France from further anarchy but it furnished an example for all time of how a mob may be mastered.

The hero of Vendémiaire was at once rewarded by the command of the Army of the Interior, but this was not the command to which he aspired. He had not, however, long to wait, for on March 7th, 1796, at the instance of Carnot he was appointed General-in-Chief of the Army of Italy.

In the interval he had become engaged to Josephine, née Tascher de la Pagerie, widow of the Marquis de Beauharnais, whom he married on March 9th. Josephine, who was six years older than her second husband, possessed unrivalled charm of manner and real sweetness of disposition. She was destitute of all intellectual qualities and had had little education, but was clever enough to know how to conceal her ignorance. The love was entirely on Napoleon’s side, but from a worldly point of view her friendship with Barras and her popularity in the Parisian society, which was being born again, could hardly fail to be useful to him.

II — The Campaign of Italy

BONAPARTE, who had been given only the temporary rank of General-in-Chief, took over the command of the army at Nice at the end of March 1796. He was not yet 27. The army consisted of some 42,000 men, very poorly equipped, and spread over a lengthy front from Nice to Savona. The enemy, Austrians and Sardinians, occupied superior positions and numbered not less than 50,000. In addition, the French army was hampered by the British fleet under the command of Nelson, which interfered with their communications by sea.

At the beginning of the campaign Bonaparte’s chief subordinates were Masséna, Augereau and Sérurier, all destined to become Marshals of the Empire. All three had been in the army before the revolution; but, whereas the two former had risen from the ranks, Sérurier had been an officer in the army of Louis XVI.

Bonaparte lost no time in setting to work. He found it necessary to disband a mutinous regiment and to obtain an advance from a local banker in order to

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