Battle of Almonacid, 11 August 1809
The battle of Almonacid of 11 August 1809 was a relatively costly French victory that effectively ended the Talavera campaign. A key part of the Allied plan for that campaign had involved the Army of La Mancha under Venegas. He was meant to threaten Madrid to prevent General Sebastiani’s 4th Corps from moving west to aid Marshal Victor, but after a good start Venegas had been inactive during the most important days of the campaign. Sebastiani had been able to move to Talavera, but despite this the French had still been defeated. The French position was only saved by the arrival of a large army from the north west of Spain, under Marshal Soult, which forced Wellington and Cuesta to retreat back into Estremadura. As the Allies retreated, King Joseph split the army that had been defeated at Talavera. Leaving Marshal Victor to take part in the pursuit of Wellington, he took Sebastiani’s corps and the Royal Reserve east, to end the threat from Venegas.
On the night of 4 August Venegas received the news that Wellington and Cuesta were in retreat, with a warning that the French might be heading his way. Despite this he decided to remain on the Tagus and to risk a battle with the French. By the morning of 5 August his army was concentrated at Aranjuez, on the southern bank of the river. Later that day the first French troops, under General Sebastiani, arrived on the north bank. Under pressure the Spanish outposts abandoned the north bank, destroying the bridge behind them. Sebastiani responded by sending troops across two nearby fords and attacking the Spanish position, but when Venegas held his ground the French pulled back (combat of Aranjuez).
When King Joseph reached Aranjuez, he decided not to attempt to cross the Tagus there, but instead to move west, and cross the bridge at Toledo. Venegas soon realised what Joseph was doing, and set his army off on a parallel march to the west, on the south bank of the river. The French won this race to Toledo, arriving late on 8 August. On the next morning Sebastiani crossed the river, driving away a Spanish detachment that was watching the town, and then following it east. The Spanish were not far behind the French, and as Sebastiani’s men advanced, they ran into the Spanish 5th division (Major-General Zerain). After a short skirmish the Spanish were forced to retreat, and moved south east along the road to Mora and Madridejos, stopping at the small town of Almonacid. By the end of 10 August the rest of the Spanish army had come up to Almonacid, where they were facing Sebastiani’s corps and Milhaud’s dragoons. King Joseph and the Royal Reserve were about ten miles to the rear.
Sebastiani, Joseph and Venegas were all determined to fight on 11 October. The French believed that they needed to defeat the Army of La Mancha to secure their hold on Madrid, while Venegas was determined not to retire in the face of the enemy. Both sides were also planning to attack, but for some reason Venegas decided to delay his own attack until 12 August, apparently expecting the French to sit quietly for an entire day to allow him to carry out this plan.
The French had a total of 17,800 infantry and 3,800 cavalry at Almonacid. Of those men Sebastiani’s 4th Corps provided 13,000 infantry and 1,000 cavalry, and the Royal Reserves 4,800 infantry and 600 cavalry. At the start of the battle Sebastiani had 14,000 men available. Venegas had 20,000 infantry and just under 3,000 cavalry, giving him numerical superiority on the day, but the French repeated defeated much larger Spanish armies.
The French task was made much easier by Venegas’s deployment. Just as at Ucles, Venegas arranged his army in a long thin line on a line of hills either side of Almonacid. The artillery was concentrated in the centre of the line, with the cavalry on the wings. The only reserve was made up of four battalions of infantry and two regiments of cavalry, posted behind the town. The strongest point on the Spanish line was the hill known as Los Cerrojones, on the left of the line.
Despite being outnumbered, on the morning of 11 August Sebastiani decided to attack the Spanish line. His plan was to capture Los Cerrojones, and then attack the rest of the Spanish army in the flank. While one division of infantry and Milhaud’s dragoons made a demonstration against the Spanish centre and right, Leval’s German division was sent to outflank the Spanish left while Valence’s Polish division attacked head-on.
The French attack was a success, although the Spanish fought better than expected. Valence’s men were actually held off by the defenders of Los Cerrojones, but when Leval’s division outflanked them they were forced to retreat. Venegas used up his reserves in an attempt to prevent the fall of the hill, but they only succeeded in stopping the French from advancing along the line. Sebastiani responded by sending his own division to attack the Spanish centre. This forced Venegas to abandon his entire line and pull back to a second line of hills, the Cerro del Castillo, a little further to the south east.
There he attempted to form a new line to hold off the French, but by now King Joseph and the reserves had reached the battlefield. Reinforced by Dessolles’ division, Sebastiani was able to break the left and centre of the new Spanish line. Fortunately for the Spanish they still had one fresh division, Vigodet’s, which had spent the entire battle so far on the Spanish right. This division was able to hold up the French advance for long enough for the defeated Spanish left and centre to begin their retreat in good order. The French cavalry was sent to chase the retreating Spanish army, but with less success than normal, and the army eventually rallied at the mountain passes on the borders of La Mancha.
The battle of Almonacid had been a French victory, but a more costly one than most of their earlier victories over Spanish armies. Sebastiani reported his losses as 319 dead and 2,075 wounded, while the Spanish lost around 800 dead and 2,500 wounded. A further 2,000 men were captured during the retreat, leaving Venegas with nearly 18,000 men. The Army of La Mancha had had a lucky escape.
In the aftermath of the battle Venegas was removed from command of the Army of La Mancha, and replaced by General Carlos Areizaga. In contrast King Joseph returned to Madrid in triumph, claiming personal responsibility for repulsing 120,000 British and Spanish troops (40,000 more than took part in the entire Talavera campaign). He then settled down for the winter. Napoleon had just ended another war with Austria after winning the battle of Wagram, and it was clear that large numbers of reinforcements, and possibly even Napoleon himself, would soon be on the way to Spain. Joseph would have to wait for his winter break, for in early October the Spanish Junta began their own offensive, aimed at forcing the French out of Madrid.
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Historical Events on August 8
- Emperor Krishnadeva Raya is crowned, marking the beginning of the regeneration of the Vijayanagara Empire in Southern India Henry II of France declares war on England and orders the siege of Boulogne Duke of Alva's army enters Brussels, Belgium Peace of Saint-Germain-and-Laye, more freedom for Huguenots
Event of Interest
1576 Cornerstone laid for Tycho Brahe's observatory in Uraniborg, Denmark, at the time world's most advanced research institution
1585 Pope Sixtus excommunicates Henry of Navarre (Henry IV)
- John Davis enters Cumberland Sound in search of the Northwest Passage The city of Oulu, Finland, is founded by Charles IX of Sweden.
Event of Interest
1609 Venetian senate examines Galileo Galilei's telescope
Treaty of Interest
1619 Duke Maximilian I & Emperor Ferdinand II signs Treaty of Munchen
- The Irish Confederate Wars and Wars of the Three Kingdoms: Battle of Dungans Hill - English Parliamentary forces defeat Irish forces.
Event of Interest
1788 King Louis XVI calls French States & Generals together
- The insurrection of Lyon occurs during the French Revolution. Joseph Whidbey and George Vancouver lead an expedition to search for the Northwest Passage near Juneau, Alaska Boston African Society establishes with 44 members 70 disciples of Gaon of Vilnius, arrive in Palestine Peace negotiations begin in Ghent, Belgium Bavaria joins Holy Alliance French government of De Polignac forms Battle of Hasselt - Dutch army drives out Belgians Beta Theta Pi is founded in Oxford, Ohio. Natal (in South Africa) is made a British colony
Event of Interest
1844 Brigham Young chosen as head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints following the death of Joseph Smith
1876 Thomas Edison is granted the patent for Autographic Printing (US Patent 180,857)
- Snow falls on Lake Michigan Will Kellogg invents Corn Flakes 1st International Lawn Tennis Challenge (precursor to Davis Cup) begins at Longwood Cricket Club in Massachusetts, won 3-0 by US over British Isles International Lawn Tennis Challenge, Brooklyn, NY: Malcolm Whitman beats Reginald Doherty 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 to give US a 3-2 win over the British Isles International Lawn Tennis Challenge, Boston, MA: Laurence Doherty beats William Larned 6-3, 6-8, 6-0, 2-6, 7-5 to give British Isles an unassailable 3-1 lead over US (ends 4-1) In 11th an old black ball is put into play against Cleve, Tigers' Nap Lajoie protests ignored, he hurls ball out of park & forfeits game The US Army installs the first tricycle landing gear on the Army's Wright Flyer. The millionth patent is filed in the United States Patent Office by Francis Holton for a tubeless vehicle tire. Public Law 62-5 sets the number of representatives in the United States House of Representatives at 435. The law would come into effect in 1913. Richard Corfields "Camel Corps" opens "Mad Mullah" in Burao Somalia
- French troops under Gen Bonneau occupy Mulhouse at Elzas Montenegro declares war on Germany A's set AL record with 19th consecutive loss on road World War I: The Allies launch the Hundred Days Offensive, beginning with the Battle of Amiens where 500 tanks and 10 Allied divisions attacked German lines Treaty of Rawalpindi, British recognise Afghanistan's independence Tigers beat Yanks 1-0 in shortest AL game, 73 minutes Pirates set record of 46 hits in a doubleheader (against Phillies) British-Russian trade agreement signed 1st national march of Ku Klux Klan (between 25,000 and 40,000 marchers) in Washington, D.C.
Hindenburg Disaster Ends the Age of Zeppelins
1929 German airship Graf Zeppelin begins a round-the-world flight
- Salem Oregon airport dedicated St Louis Cards are 12 games back in NL, & go on to win pennant Washington Senators pitcher Bobby Burke no-hits Boston Red Sox, 5-0 at Griffith Stadium, Washington D. C. A Finnish quinella in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Berlin Olympics Volmari Iso-Hollo beats teammate Kaarlo Tuominen in world record time (9:03.8) American Glenn Morris' decathlon total of 7,254 points is a world record teammates Bob Clark & Jack Parker complete US sweep in the gruelling event at the Berlin Olympics Bonneville Dam on Columbia River begins producing power Great Trek Centenary Celebrations commence the Great Trek was a migration involving Boers leaving the Cape Colony and settling in the interior of South Africa 6th Venice Film Festival opens
Event of Interest
1939 7th Venice Film Festival opens with a United States boycott due to Benito Mussolini's Fascist Italian regime
3. Napoleon came to power in a coup.
Coups d’état were commonplace during the French Revolution, the last of which occurred courtesy of Napoleon, who returned from an Egyptian military campaign in October 1799 determined to take power. A plot soon arose involving a number of high-level co-conspirators, who provided a fa of legality when, on November 9, Napoleon engineered the collapse of the five-member Directory that headed the country. “What have you done with the France that I left in such a brilliant state?” he shouted outside the seat of government. “I left you peace, I found war! I left you victories, I find defeat!” A day later, a brawl broke out in the legislature between Napoleon’s supporters and opponents until troops moved in and cleared out the building. A new government was then set up with three consuls: Napoleon, who as first consul was by far the most powerful, and two former directors who were in on the coup plot. In 1802 Napoleon became first consul for life, and in 1804, at age 35, he crowned himself emperor.
El principe de hierro - A Napoleonic tale
General Benito de San Juan did not intend to become a hero nor to ruin Napoleon's plans for a short while. However, that was what he did. General de San Juan had ordered his small cavalry forces to march west making all the noise and fuss possible to attract Savary's attention. While de San Juan had only a small hope that the trick could work, it went beyond all his expectations and Savary raced towards Labajos while he moved in the opposite direction. After a courier had informed him that Castaños was to be in Guadalix de la Sierra, he marched his army in that direction, not knowing that Napoleon was moving south-west both to flank Castaños and to move between his army and Madrid. However, what he did was to march, head-on, towards de San Juan. Napoleon had an advantage over de San Juan: he had cavalry forces with him who spotted the small Spanish army well beyond its commander was aware of the danger. Furthermore, he had a bigger force and, of course, his cunning. Thus, when he knew the general direction of the Spaniards, he decided to annihilate them. First, he sent his cavalry to slow them down and then advanced with the Guard at full view while the exhausted part of Ney's Corps remained in reserve. The Emperor did not bother to ask help from the closest corps and simply moved forward. De San Juan, being aware of the presence of the French army, turned to face them, forming in battle order to the east of Becerril de la Sierra, expecting Napoleon coming from that direction. However, he gave a wide turn south and then up north and appeared on de San Juan's rear on December 17.
The Spanish general was taken by surprise. He had to turn his army around, a move which left his artillery behind his battle lines. Then, Napoleon began his attack with his guns., focusing on the left wing of the Spanish army. Then, by sheer luck (again), the Spanish counter-battery fire silenced the battery on the right-center. Then the luck of th Spanish general ended. After an hour of bombardment, Napoleon ordered the Guard to advance. After closing the distance, the Guard stopped and launched a massive volley fire upon the Spanish ranks and then charged. Barely thirty minutes later, the Spanish army fled the field. While de San Juan had only lost 400 men (for less than 100 French casualties), most of his demoralized army withdrew in disorder in different directions. Thus, the Emperor could now move freely without having a threat on his back. Meanwhile, after stopping his headlong retreat at Guadalix, Prince Gabriel met with General La Romana and began to plan their next move. Together they mustered around 35,000 men and 90 guns but most of the soldiers were exhausted. Those with Gabriel had fought two main battles in the past week and those under the command of La Romana had marched non-stop from Asturias to reach Madrid. All in all, they had marched from Langreo to Madrid in barely three weeks (that is, 20 kms a day). Thus, both commands needed to rest. However, they had the enemy on their heels.
Napoleon sent wave after wave of couriers to reorganize the Grande Armée. Victor's corps had fought two battles in the last few days and, while the commander of the 1st Corps was ready to march after the Spaniards, Bessières's division was in a dire need of a rest after being mauled by Gabriel in the last encounter. Undaunted, Victor left behind Bessières and marched as ordered by the Emperor, following the path of Ney's Corps. Both forces were to meet at la Venturada and from there they would march west towards Guadalix. Ney was to take the longest path, as he was to move to the south of Navalafuente and from there to attack Guadalix in order to prevent Gabriel marching north. Meanwhile, Napoleon, reinforced by Saint Cyr's fresh Corps, would march east as the left arm of the pincer movement that was to trap the Spanish force, who would have to fight and be destroyed there or would be forced to withdraw towards Madrid, 50 kms to the south.
However, Prince Gabriel had plans of his own and as the French armies began their offensive on December 19, he attacked Victor. Towards 9 o'clock in the morning, Prince Gabriel set one his brigades, with some cavalry, in motion towards the windmill of the Vellón. To their surprise, Victor's vanguard didn't give ground this time and vigorously counterattacked, pushing the Spanish advance guard back. However, when the French cavalry formed to charge, it was dispersed by a violent Spanish cannonade. With the remainder of the division at hand, Gabriel sent then its two brigades against the French position, while the first brigade advanced under the cover of the guns. However, the French defenders held on, and the attackers were soon repulsed. Gabriel then launched five cavalry squadrons to the rescue and they forced the French horsemen to withdraw. With the arrival of the second division, the Spaniards pressed again forwards, forcing the French to withdraw. One of its battalions became isolated from the main line and, surrounded by the Spanish cavalry, it was forced to surrender.
With Victor withdrawing towards Venturada, Ney, who heard the sounds of guns, began to move towards them. The Spanish army also moved forward, with the two divisions in pursuit of Victor along the road to Venturada. La Romana deployed then on the left, as Ney had been discovered by the scouting cavalry while the Spanish mounted units galloped to cut off Victor's retreat. However, in spite of having the bulk of the enemy artillery firing at them, Victor's forces withdrew in good order, forming squares to fend off the Spanish cavalry. Towards 2 o'clock in the afternoon, Victor, with Ney nowhere to be found, decided to immediately withdraw. With the French forces in full retreat, Gabriel decided to aggressively pursue the enemy, knowing that he could count on his two infantry divisions, as well as on the support of the bulk of the artillery, and on the two cavalry brigades. At a short distance were two more Spanish infantry divisions. Initially, Victor was able to lead an exemplary retreat. However, once in flat ground, proper for cavalry action, under the Spanish cannonade, the of French brigades became increasingly isolated. Not willing to slow down his corps for the brigade and overestimating the enemy force, Victory kept withdrawing, and the brigade was finally cut off from the rest of the corps and charged violently by the Spanish cavalry and then blasted to pieces by their guns. In the end, no less than 800 French prisoners were made, and the rest of the brigade was routed. Leaving Victor to withdraw and noticing the arrival of Ney, Prince Gabriel ended the persecution and turned south, to prepare an ambush for the new enemy.
The battle was actually a quite brief one, but it was a costly defeat for Victor (and it would be worse for his career), who lost as much as 1,000 men during this day as well as 800 prisoners. The fast French defeat made the Spanish losses very light, around 200 men.
7. The Fourth Battle of Madrid (December 19-22, 1808).
As the Spanish small force under Castaños which was screening Napoleon's advance proved unable to slow him, Prince Gabriel was informed that French cavalry had been spotted close to Colmenar Viejo, at barely 30 kms from Madrid. Fearing that Napoleon was going to cut him from the capital, Gabriel dropped down his ambush and turned his exhausted army and marched south at the double. Thus, when Ney finally reached the windmill of the Vellón, there was no one there to meet him and he turned east, going after Victor, as he thought that the Spanish army was still chasing the defeated corps. Napoleon, on his part, had moved further south than he had initially had planned, guessing that Prince Gabriel would turn south to either defend Madrid or to escape from the French encirclement. Thus, out of good luck, the Spanish General avoided fighting Ney and, out of bad luck, found the Emperor himself in his way.
Prince Gabriel hoped to find reinforcements from Madrid, but they resulted to be just a 3,000 strong brigade built by replacements and wounded soldiers. The quality of this unit and its commanders is summarized by their actions on December 19, when, instead of marching north, suddenly turned south, towards Madrid, causing panic in the capital, as many interpreted the move as if the main army had been defeated and its remnants were withdrawing. However, Napoleon had also problems of his own. Murat, still smarting from his hurried withdrawal from Madrid, aggressively pushed his cavalry force while the advanced guard of Saint Cyr's corps reached Soto del Real. On December 20, the bulk of Napoleon's force was near Guadalix de la Sierra, but for a division that was in ry, Wrede's corps was near Navalafuente. The Guard's corps was near Los Endrinales with its vanguard halfway to Gaudalix.
Prince Gabriel kept marching south, something that was noticed by Napoleon, who ordered all his troops to turn south and recalled Ney to come at once to him. On December 21, Murat had reached Colmenar Viejo with his cavalry and part of Saint Cyr, who was close to the village while Napoleon was racing south too. Then, Gabriel massed his army to the south of Colmenar Viejo, near Tres Cantos. They had with him 20,000 while La Romana, with the rest of the army and half of the guns marched south to build a defensive line in the hilly area of the Las Jarillas. Meanwhile, Saint Cyr became aware of large numbers of Spanish troops south of his position. The French General placed two battalions in Colmenar Viejo and massed the rest of his troops on both sides of the road to the east of the village, with his artillery in the center. He was prepared to fight. During the night, Napoleon sent orders to Saint Cyr to hold until his arrival or to withdraw towards him if he was attacked by a superior force. At daybreak, Saint Cyr faced what he thought it was an overwhelming force and began to retreat. However, in the rush, the French commander left behind the two battalions in Colmenar Viejo. With Murat nowhere to be found and the enemy force clearly spotted in the distance, Saint Cyr, followed orders and marched to meet with Napoleon.
At 05:00 December 22, the Spanish infantry advanced with three brigades on the front and with the artillery marching in the intervals. On the flanks there was a mixture of light cavalry and mounted "guerrilleros'' (a kind of irregular mounted infantry, rather than proper cavalry). In that moment, Colonel Jacques Gervais, baron Subervie, who was scouting the field for Napoleon with his regiment, 10th Chasseurs à Cheval. spotted the Spanish and realized the trouble that the two battalions at Colmenar Viejo were. Thus, while sending a courier to Napoleon informing the Emperor of the situation, Subervie joined the defenders of the village, who were shocked when they realized their true situation. Thus, hoping for a miracle, Subervie decided to hold back the enemy at all cost, trusting that support would arrive in time not only to save their skins but to finish the enemy force for once and all. However, the battle did not begin well for the French as their skirmishers were whooped down by the enemy cavalry. while the rest of Gabriel's cavalry advanced on Subervie's horsemen. In the center, the Spanish infantry forced its way into the village, fighting house to house and forcing the enemy to withdraw into the open. Then, some Spanish mounted force appeared on their right flank, forcing many to surrender. Then, two French brigades appeared to the north. It was Saint-Cyr that had turned south after a courir from the Emperor assured him that he was marching behind his tail with the Guard. In fact, Napoleon was slightly far away than he told his commander, but his troops were marching at the double.
When the two-newly arrived brigades arrived, Gabriel decided to cut losses. To cover his withdrawal, he launched all his mounted force against the two brigades, that formed in two squares in a hurry. However, one of them was too late forming as the incoming riders charged and broke their square. By the time that Saint-Cyr reached the battlefield, Prince Gabriel had vanished again. The French lost 214 casualties, two guns and 4 caissons captured, even in the hurried withdrawal, one of the guns was abandoned and recovered by Saint Cyr. Again, while the Russians said they saved two cannons. All in all, the Spanish casualties were around 30.
Prince Gabriel was aware that he had Napoleon following him. The Emperor had divided his force in three: Saint Cyr led the right/south-most column south toward Santo Domingo Ney was with the left/northern column towards San Agustín de Guadalix and the Emperor, in the center, a bit back, with the Imperial Guard, acting as a reserve . He was determined to avoid the hilly bottleneck of Tres Cantos and was to deploy the might of his force -his numbers and his mobility- on the plains to the north west of Madrid. From there, the French army was only 30 kms away from Madrid. Gabriel leaving a small rearguard at Las Jarillas marched southeast towards Fuente del Fresno. By the time that Napoleon reached Santo Domingo, he would be in his way again, six kilometres to the south.
Meanwhile, to the north of the country, General Moore had stopped his withdrawal to turn against Soult at Sahagún, in León. Again, it was a clash between the two enemy cavalries, that met each other while exploring ahead of the main force. A French brigade under César Alexandre Debell took Sahagún. Lord Paget ordered the 10th Hussars to move through the town while he made a sweep around it with the 15th Hussars in order to surround the French. Debell was completely took by surprise but reacted with energy and managed to extricate most of his command, even if the 1st Provisional Chasseurs (commanded by Colonel Tascher, a relative of the Empress Josephine - though he may not have been present) was trashed by the British Dragoons when they waited stationary the charge of the British horsemen to halt them with carbine fire. However, an unexpected shower had damaged the weapons of the Chasseurs, with dramatic consequences for them. All in all, the French losses were 41 killed & wounded, 13 officers and over 300 other ranks captured. The British lost 6 killed and 26 wounded.
8. The Fifth Battle of Madrid (December 22-27, 1808).
All in all, by the time that the tried troops of Prince Gabriel reached Fuentes del Fresno at the late hours of December 23, the bulk of the French forces were moving in or around Sant Agustín de Guadalix. Even then, it took almost six more hours to have the three columns reaching their final destinations. Thus, the Emperor decided to let his forces rest. He was sure that the combined might of the three columns would be enough to crush Prince Gabriel, as he was to fix his forces with one of the columns while the other two would march around him, one to cut his line of withdrawal and the other one to place itself between the Spanish army and Madrid.
However, for some strange reason, Ney and Napoleon moved too slowly. Saint-Cyr, unaware of this, moved forward and attacked Gabriel ay 8:00. The first formations were little problem for the defenders, that held their ground. The second attack, at 9:00, was also repulsed. Unable to make any progress by 11:00 am, Saint Cyr waiting for the arrival of Napoleon's corps, who was still at Valdetorres del Jarama, further to the North while Ney was even further away. An angry message from the Emperor moved him to action. He reorganized his troops and attacked again at 14:00, but the Spanish artillery threw back assault after assault. In the afternoon, with Napoleon stil l15 kms away, at 15:00 Saint-Cyr launched a new attack, with the bulk of his forces massing against the Spanish right flank and the guns unleashing a barrage over the Spanish positions, which were fnally overran. Even then, Gabriel managed to withdraw in order, even if the the French cavalry launched several charges down the road. However, the tired Spanish soldiers began to fell into complete disorder as they moved south and soon the Spanish force began to loose its cohesion. Prince Gabriel tried to rally his men and was nearly captured by the French cavalry. In the end, the Spanish could re-arrange their lines close to San Sebastián de los Reyes.
The Spanish casualties were heavy: 1,400 killed and wounded. The French captured 3,600 men, twelve cannons and two ammunition wagons. The French lost 2,000 killed and wounded. In spite of the losses, Prince Gabriel had managed to recover the control of his army and escape, once more, from the French persecution. However, he was aware that Ney and the Emperor himself were moving around him and that he was in no position to stop neither of them. Nevertheless, he decided to bet once more and moved his exhausted forces again to the south and placed himself between Madrid and Napoleon. Then, History, shocked, stopped breathing for a moment.
He moved towards Torrejón de Ardoz, which he reached on December 24. That day, his vanguard attacked a surprised French batallion on the outskirsts of the village and made short work of it: 310 killed, wounded, or captured for 190 Spanish casualties. Then, Prince Gabriel deployed his forces in defensive position in and around Torrejón.
Preliminary fighting on the morning December 25 saw the French vanguard chase off a small Spanish detachment from some farms in the north-east of the village. In the early hours of tjat day, the French renewed their push along the road. At 12:30, French dragoons arrived in front of Torrejón, but had lost the element of surprise and withdrew under heavy fire. From 14:00 onwards, the French repeatedly attacked the Spanish position at the village. Some troops from the Guard even entered in some houses of the village before being driven back.
By 18:00 Gabriel, because of poor intelligence sources, was operating under the impression that the French had 60,000 soldiers with him and was generally reluctant to have his troops launch any attacks (by then he had barely 15,000 men with him) However, during the day, the arrival of La Romana with the rest of the army doubled the size of its forces. Had he launched a full attack against Napoleon's 30,000 men he could have achieved a great victory, as some historians believed to this day. However, the uncertainty about the situation and the fact that he was fighting against the Emepror himself reduced the attack to a feble testing of the French left flank that was easily repulsed. The fall of darkness ended that day of battle. It had been a bloody night for both sides, but, by the end of the first day of fighting, however, Torrejón still remained in Spanish hands.
At around 5:00 AM on December 26, Napoleon attacked again. His troops marched against the neighbouring Alcalá de Henares, which was taken after heavy fighting. After driven off the enemy units, the French right wing preapred to turn westwards and hit the enemy flank, but Prince Gabriel reacted first and ordered a powerful counter-attack with two brigades that slammed into the enemy forces and drove them back. The French position was saved by a Colonel Fabvier, who on his own initiative separated from the main force and advanced at the double to help to repell the Spanish brigade, even if taking a horrible beating on the process. At midday, after a few more French attacks produced no results, and Napoleon retired his forces.
The news that Napoleon himself had been defeated on the battlefield would soon spread around Europe
Prince Gabriel, on his part, knew that this army was now too weak to take on Napoleon directly after two weeks of constant movement and fivffe battles thus, he decided to change strategy. He would march into the rear of the enemy army to attack its supply lines. However, Napoleon also decided for a bold move: Madrid was at a days march from their current positions, so he decided to advance against the city. This was reinforced when the French hussars intercepted a report from Pedro de Mora y Lomas, the major of Madrid, where he told to Prince Gabriel that "the depots, arsenals and powder stores of the city are empty. The treasury is empty, too. We are completely at the end of our resources. The population is hungry and discontented. French spies and traitors are sustaining and fomenting popular agitation". After reading this report, Napoleon reacted at once: he sent Murat with the bulk of his cavalry to harass Gabriel's force while he marched with all his corps towards Madrid.
9. Napoleon in Madrid (December 28, 1808 - January 1809).
With Napoleon marching towards Madrid and with Murat harassing his movements, Prince Gabriel was almost powerless. When he received news of the enemy movements, he ordered a forced march back to the Spanish capital, determined to lead its defence himself. The Junta evacuated the city, which was awash with rumours of treachery and defeat. Castaños was able to reach the city before the French with his troops, but, once there, after adding his force to the garrison, he found that the city was virtually undefended. He had with him around 12,000 men, but most of them were raw recruits. Napoleon had with him 50,000 seasoned troops outside the city and soon began to prepare his forces to take the city before any more reinforcements could arrive in time.
Camping outside the city on December 28, the French forces were to assault the city from its northern and eastern sides the next morning. The battle started that same morning with an intense French artillery bombardment centered against the Retiro Heights. Early in the morning the French infantry under Ney attacked and drove back the defenders before themselves driven back by a Spanish counter attack near the Prado. By 7:00 Victor's corps attacked from the south, at the Valencia gate, and, after some hard fighting pushed the defenders back. A few hours later Napoleon attacked north of the city against the Fuencarral and Pozos gates and advanced into the city., reaching the Hospital de San Andrés de los Flamencos, in San Hermenegildo Street (today San Marcos Street) to the south, Victor was stopped in front of the Real Hospicio, in Fuencarral Street. Control of the streets were viciously contested, but, slowly but surely, the French were able to push the defenders back and to advance.
Defeat was inevitable and Castaños, fearing for the inhabitants of Madrid and to save the city from destruction, that night agreed to surrender it on the condition that the troops were permitted to leave the city with their weapons. Prince Gabriel was at Ocaña just 65 kilometres from Madrid. When he was informed that the city had surrendered, he sat motionless for a long while. His army was hungry and utterly exhausted after the forced march and the battles of the last weeks. Nevertheless, he began to plan to advance over Madrid. However, La Romana was against attacking, as it would change nothing ths, La Romana was in favor of marching to the south to join with the Junta.
Two days later, Gabriel's tired soldiers began their march to the south of Spain.
A week prior to these events, the Junta Central had issued a decree (December 22, 1808) that followed the one of November 22. If the former had declared the mobilization of 250,000 men and the creation of militias to act as a police force against thieves and deserters, the latter raised the "Milicia de nueva especie" or New Militia, aimed to include the partidas and cuadrillas of the guerrilla within the Regular Army and to give a military status to its members to avoid them being summarily executed by the French. However, Napoleon never accepted that. Thus, the decree followed, these units were to act to "intercept the moves of the enemy, to contain their forays, looting and pillage and [. ] to report their movements" (Article 22 of the Decree of December 22)₁.
Meanwhile, General Moore had been cornered in Galicia by Soult, who commanded by then 40,000 men. Thus, Soult was to finish the British general and then would march south to invade Portugal while Ney would replace him in Galicia with the 6th (16,000 men) to keep the region at bay. Moore, who had finished the withdrawal from old Castile, found himself isolated₂, and with the Spanish defeated, he was not going to give Napoleon the chance to destroy Britain's only field army thus, Moore began to retreat to his embarkation ports of A Coruña and Vigo on January 2, 1809, with Soult in close pursuit.
Meanwhile, leaving his brother Joseph as the overall commander of the French forces in Spain (even if Marshall Jourdan was in control of the military actions), Napoleon returned to France. He had ordered Latour-Maubourg's infantry and Lasalle's dragoons to chase Prince Gabriel while Milhaud keep and eye on Toledo, However, while Lasalle searched for Gabriel towards Almaraz, chasing the withdrawing defenders of the Guadarrama, who he thought it was the rearguard of Gabriel's forces, the Spanish general kept his steady course south and was marching towards Ciudad Real, where he arrived in January 5, 1809, with a shadow of its army, which had been depleted by desertions as soldiers simply left the ranks after the fall of Madrid. There, he joined hands with Pedro de Alcántara Álvarez de Toledo, Duke of the Infantado, and his 21,000 men. Gabriel was surprised when the duke of the Infantado told him he was preparing to march north to recover Madrid and bluntly awoke him about the true situation, being aware that Victor's Corps was marching towards Cuenca to protect Madrid from the East.
For the moment, the Spanish theatre of war would remain calm (but for Galicia, where General Moore managed to reembark and return to Britain) until March, when Soult invaded Portugal and the reinforced and reorganized Spanish armies attacked again.
Wel, had things ran as I expected, Chapter 9 would be the end of this TL. In fact, my original intention was to have Prince Gabriel being forced to surrender after the fall of Madrid and being sent to Bayonne with the rest of the Spanish Royals.
However, as it seems that this small thing has been quite enjoyed by the readers, I feel tempted to answer a question "What would happen when Gabriel met Wellington?". I hope it's not a bad idea.
Stay tunned, and thanks for reading this.
I'm blushing, really. Thanks for the praise.
Thus, Prince Gabriel's deeds will follow here, to keep his story in a single thread.
Book 2. Meeting Wellington.
10. The Second Invasion of Portugal (February 1 - June 6, 1809),
After the last British troops left Galicia, Napoleon ordered Marshal Nicolas Soult to invade Portugal from the north. He was to seize Porto by 1 February and Lisbon by 10 February. However, the Emperor failed to take into account both the wretched condition and the roads, the tired conditions of Soult' force or the fact that a full-scale guerrilla war had broken out in Spain. However, Soult was decided to make the most of his corps, made up of four infantry divisions, commanded by Generals Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle, Julien Augustin Joseph Mermet, Étienne Heudelet de Bierre, and Henri François Delaborde. In all, Soult had 23,500 men, including 3,100 cavalry
Soult's first attempt to invade Portugal was stopped by the local militia on 16 February. The French then moved northeast to Ourense in Spain, seized an unguarded bridge and marched south. However, by then the first guerillas had begun to act in the French rearguard, threatening the communications with Madrid. In Ourense Soult began to prepare again for the invasion, in spite of Ney's demands to postpone it until Galicia had been secured. However, by then only guerrillas remained in the area, as the last regular troops under La Romana had long ago joined Prince Gabriel in the center of Spain. Then, Soult crossed into Portugal and marched towards Chaves, where he was met by General Francisco da Silveira on March 9. The Portuguese General had 6,000 men with him. In spite of the numerical inferiority, Silveira was able to until March 24, giving time to General Caetano José Vaz Parreiras to fortify Porto. On April 7 he entered Braga after butchering the half-trained army of Baron Christian Adolph Friedrich von Eben, made up of 25,000 men, of which barely were regular soldiers and the remainder were militiamen armed with muskets, pikes, and agricultural implements. The Portuguese lost 3,000 killed and 700 captured. The French, who only lost 160 killed and 420 wounded and seized 7 cannons.
On April 15 Soult was at Porto. Parreiras had no better luck than von Eben. His 30,000 man-army, half made up of regulars and militias, were no match for the French. Soult began by attacking the enemy on both flanks while keeping at hand his reserve to crush the enemy center when Parreiras reinforced the threatened sections. Of course, the Portuguese fell to the French trick, but he gave time to a squadron of Spanish naval vessels and 10 merchant ships to escape from Junot, who, after Parreiras's battered army fled the city, was able to capture 20 merchant ships and large stockpiles of British military stores. In the battle the French lost 2,000 casualties while the Portuguese lost about 7,000 casualties and 104 cannons were captured. However, Silveira captured Chaves again on April 14, threatening Soult's communications and the French marshal started planning a retreat. His 40,000 men had been reduced to half that number, due to the need of leaving garrisons to defend the rearguard. Marching forwards would have meant having to leave a force protecting Porto that would have made his army unable to fight. Thus, and with the trouble in his rear, he withdrew. By early May, Sir Arthur Wellesley's Anglo-Portuguese army was on the march towards Porto.
Meanwhile, Austria, determined to avenge the recent defeats inflicted by Napoleon, with the events in Spain encouraging Vienna, the Austrian government began its search for Allies. Russia, which had made peace with Napoleon at Tilsit, was tied up fighting against Sweden and the Ottoman Empire in 1809. In Prussia, a group of Prussian officers led by Heinrich Friedrich vom und zum Stein and Gerhard von Scharnhorst, began to slowly win the support of Friedrich Wilhelm III. Surely but slowly, Prussia began to prepare itself to avenge the shame of 1806. While Napoleon was slightly aware that something was on the making in Austria, he was completely clueless about what was going on in Berlin ₁. When on April 10, leading elements of the Austrian army crossed the Inn River and invaded Bavaria and Prussia joined Austria a week later, he was completely taken by surprise.
On his part, Prince Gabriel had an easy time, as the center of Spain remained in calm until March 1809. He had used the time to reorganize and rest his army. Due to his prestige achieved during his failed defence of Madrid, he was promoted by the Junta Central to the overall command of the Spanish forces in central Spain. However, he soon ran into trouble. General Gregorio García de la Cuesta, «an honest solder, even if somewhat primal of those who put aggressiveness and courage above any other military quality»₂, had been charged by the Junta to reform the Army of E xtremadura and to defend the southern border of Spain. Cuesta attacked as soon as he managed to gather a sufficient force thus, in February 1809 the entire province of Badajoz was reconquered from the French. However, Marshall Claude Victor counter-attacked and on March 28, Cuesta - at 68 years old, the oldest general in the Spanish army - was mortally wounded and his army severely defeated in the battle of Medellín, losing half of the army (8,000 dead, 2,000 captured and 20 guns). Thus, in a sweeping move, Cuesta managed to disrupt Prince Gabriel's strategy.
Gabriel rushed to take command of the Army of Extremadura to cut the dangerous advance by Victor. He took with him one of the veteran divisions he had with him in Somosierra, fighting Napoleon. He left General José María de la Cueva, Duke of Alburquerque, in command of the Army in the Sierra Morena Line. Thankfully for him, Victor did not advance any further and did not attempt neither to take Badajoz nor to fulfill King Joseph's instructions and to invade Andalucia. In early June, with huge logistical troubles, he had to withdraw to the right side of the Tagus River. This, along with the failure of Junot in Portugal, the sudden rebellion in Gorna (May 6) and the defeat of General Louis Gabriel Suchet's French army by a Spanish force under General Joaquín Blake y Joyes at Alcañiz (May 23, 1809), put the French control of Spain in jeopardy. However, Suchet managed to recover from this setback and defeated Blake first at María (June 15) and then at Belchite (June 18). and King Joseph reinforced Ney with another infantry division.
In this situation, Prince Gabriel, after reorganizing and turning into shape the Army of Extremadura and trusting that Alburquerque was going to follow his instructions and defend the Sierra Morena line, marched north to join hands with Wellesley. On his part, Soult with Galicia all but lost, decided to retreat to Astorga, leaving a garrison in Leon to link with Ney, who had subdued Asturias and forced La Romana to withdraw to Galicia. The Soult turned west and attempted to capture Porto and, thus, to isolate Galicia. After this, he would destroy the Anglo-Portuguese forces and hopefully conquer Portugal. However, to his surprise, General John Moore landed again in Galicia with 20,000 men, marched towards Astorga, capturing the city (June 29) as Silvera and Wellesley defeated Soult at Grijó (July 2). The French forces had to cross again the border, but this time with the Anglo-Portuguese army following close, until the French stopped and fortified themselves at Ciudad Rodrigo.
Then, Prince Gabriel marched north with a small retinue to meet with Wellington. The two generals met at Miravete (July 6, 1809), the same day that Napoleon defeated the Austro-Prussian armies at Wagram.
₁ - Stein's correspondence is not intercepted by the French, so no crushing Convention of September 1808
₂ - Calvo Albero, José Luis 1809: La campaña del Tajo (The Tagus Campaign), pp. iii, 39-40, 236, 247. University of Granada, 2014.
₃ - IOTL, Cuesta was wounded and defeated, but I've used the chance to kill him as he was a difficult man to deal with, as the Duke of Wellington himself was to discover, to his great discomfort, IOTL, but not here.
11. The War of the Fifth Coalition: (1)
The War of the Fifth Coalition was fought in 1809 by a coalition of the Austrian Empire, the Kingdom of Prussia, the United Kingdom, Portugal and Spain against Napoleon's French Empire and its German allies, chiefly Bavaria. Erstwhile coalition member Russia did not participate. Major engagements between France and Austria unfolded over much of Central Europe from April to July, with very high casualty rates for both sides. Britain, already involved on the European continent in the ongoing Peninsular War, sought to further assist the Austrian intervention by launching the Walcheren Campaign, although this effort had little impact on the outcome of the conflict.
In the early morning of 10 April, leading elements of the Austrian army crossed the Inn River and invaded Bavaria. Bad roads and freezing rain slowed the Austrian advance in the first week, but the opposing Bavarian forces gradually retreated. The Austrian attack had taken Napoleon a bit by surprise, and Berthier was the one to face the initial onslaught, proving to be an insufficient field commander. This was made ₁worse by the chaotic communications which led Davout's III corps to fight against the bulk of the Austrian armies around Regensburg. Meanwhile, Prussian invaded Saxony. As the Prussian troops crossed the border, Berlin flooded Europe with a proclamation that the move was aimed to free the German states from being slaved by Napoleon, "an enemy who pursues us with a relentless and apparently aimless hostility." [Berlin Proclamation, April 10, 1809]. The proclamation stressed that the Prussian armies had come as liberators, not conquerors, to Saxony, and invited the other German states to join Prussia in its war of liberation. "We come to you", von Scharnhorst wrote, "with the deepest sympathy for the wrongs that have been inflicted upon you and to aid you in throwing off this foreign yoke" [Scharnhorst's Proclamation, April 12, 1809]. Bernadotte, in face of the Prussian onslaught, withdrew to Dresden.
However, Napoleon reacted fast. He gave Lefebvre a chance to redeem himself and send him with a corps to reinforce Davout while Massena and Oudinot would strike southeast towards Freising and Landshut in hopes of rolling up the entire Austrian line and relieving the pressure on Davout. However, the Austrian commander, Archduke Charles, realized what was going on, and, after the Battle of Eckmühl, decided to withdraw over the Danube towards Regensburg. Hardly a month later, the Austrian capital fell in French hands for the second time in four years (May 13, 1809). On 16 May and 17, the main Austrian army under Charles arrived in the Marchfeld, a plain northeast of Vienna just across the Danube that often served as a training ground for Austrian military forces. Napoleon attempted a forced crossing of the Danube near Vienna, first on May 13 and then again on May 20. This move gave place to the battle of Aspern-Essling (May 21-22, 1809), where the French and their allies were driven back by the Austrians. This was a hard blow for Napoleon, even more with the recent Spanish campaign in mind. However, the Emperor was able to successfully withdraw most of his forces.
Meanwhile, the Prussian offensive had ended with mixed results. They had pushed back Bernadotte, who had been reinforced by Jerome. Once the news of the Austrian withdrawal reached von Scharnhorst, the Prussians withdrew. Apparently, the Prussian army had arguably won a tactical victory, having fought aggressively and pushed his opponents back to Leipzig, mauling the Saxony army and giving a good brushing to Bernadotte in the process, but, all in all, the attack had achieved little else₁. Their precarious strategic situation had ended in retreat to avoid being cut between Bernadotte and Jerome, even if they still controlled Dresden.
Six weeks later, Napoleon was ready to attack. He had amassed a 155,000-man French, German and Italian soldiers₁ in the vicinity of Vienna. The Battle of Wagram began after Napoleon crossed the Danube with the bulk of these forces during the night of 4 July and attacked the 136,000-man strong Austrian army. Having successfully crossed the river, the setting sun prevented any fighting that day. The battle opened at dawn (about 05:30) onJuly as the French artillery roared to life around Markgrafneusiedel. Pillars of smoke rose into the air and the grand roar grew with all the guns of both armies shooting at once in such a way that the inhabitants of Vienna could hear it. Davout's corps (38,000 men, 120 guns) moved forwards against Feldmarschalleutnant Prince Rosenberg-Orsini, who was in command of the 18,140 men and 60 cannons of the IV Korps. The disparity in number was more than offset by the Austrian strong defensive positions. Morand's division moved on Davout's right, Friant's in the center and Gudin's on the left , with Puthod's division was deployed in the center and slightly to the rear as a reserve unit, with the three cavalry divisions (Grouchy, Pully and Montbrun) on the right flank of Morand. Supported by the guns, Davout's corps assaulted the enemy positions. Soon the air was filled with a hail of bullets and shells while Grouchy's dragoons tried to fix the enemy cavalry while Montbrun sent a part of his light cavalry division towards Ober Sieberbrunn, in a bid to outflank the Austrians. The French infantry made use of their superior numbers to push back their enemies, even if the Austrian guns made them pay a heavy toll. However, the dodged Austrian defence finally stopped Morand's division and the battle there became a bloody stalemate.
French advances a few hundred yards to the west were more successful. Brig. Gen. Gilly's Brigade of Friant's division pushing aside Weiss,'s men, but they were halted by the charging Hessen-Homburg and Swinburn's brigades, although they were forced back after being exposed to fierce return fire from Gilli's men and Hessen-Homburg was mortally wounded. The French advance resumed, opening a large gap in the Austrian defensive line, which teetered near collapse. Although the cost was steep, Davout's corps was making steady progress. Austrian reinforcements reinforcements from Nordmann's Advanced Guard arrived at 07:00 and pushed the French troops back and closed the gap. Both sides had suffered heavily, but Morand and Friant had been unable to achieve his objectives. After two hours and 1,300 casualties, their men were back where they started. Meanwhile, Gudin, with Puthod in close support, moved forwards, presenting an excellent artillery target. Gudin himself was shot in the chest and died the next day. However, their men were able to break through the enemy lines and reached Markgrafneusiedel. Davout, feeling that he had the battle there, attempted to reorganize his corps to continue the assault, but an Austrian sharpshooter spotted him and shot him through the shoulder. Command of his Corps fell temporally to General Morand, as Davout returned after having his shoulder patched in a hurry. However, by then Gudin and Puthods men came under heavy fire and withdrew to their starting positions. With the French cavalry also unable to defeat their Austrian counterparts, the right flank fell silent towards 9:00.
Rosenberg-Orsini, on his part, was aware that his exhausted line was about to give way if attacked again, with possibly catastrophic consequences for the entire Austrian army. It was the when Archduke Charles personally brought reinforcements to his battered left wing: five infantry battalions, one battery of six-pounders, all drawn from the II Korps, and four squadrons of hussars, as well as the entire 8th Hohenzollern Cuirassier regiment, from the Cavalry Reserve. Despite the considerable distance, towards 10:00, Napoleon could see through his spyglass that Davout was back to his starting positions.
The morning phase ended with casualties on both sides of almost 6,000.
₁ - ITTL Bernadotte's is unable to march south and to join the Emperor, as he is needed in Saxony.
12. The War of the Fifth Coalition: (2)
With the morning phase over, Napoleon launched an all-out attack, determined to finish the enemy army because Archduke Karl could be reinforced by his brother, Archduke Johann of Austria. Trusting that Karl had moved part of his reserves to the right, he launched the French "Army of Italy", the II and IV Corps, against the Austrian I and II, with the III launching a feint against Markgrafneusiedl to keep the IV Corps in place. The French attacked again with superior numbers, but their enemies were in a strong defensive position. To the surprise of Napoleon, Massena launched brigade-sized assaults against the Austrian improvised breastworks at around 10:30. The first brigade to attack, mostly inexperienced troops, was quickly cut down by heavy rifle fire by the d'Aspré's division from the Austrian Grenadier Reserve the second attack, more raw recruits, was also subjected to heavy fire but managed to beat back a counterattack by the Erzherzog Karl Legion. The third attack finally managed to take the small village of Baumersdorf all in all, Napoleon suffered 1,750 casualties in under an hour.
As reinforcements were arriving on both sides, by 10:30 Archduke Karl sent his final reserve division the center of the line and to and extend it to his right, prepared an attack against Deutsch-Wagram, defended by Dupas's small Franco-Saxon division., and thus it would envelop Napoleon's left flank. But at the same time McDonald's fresh troops struck the first blow, leading off the fourth attack of the second phase of the battle. They were met with heavy volleys that cut the men to pieces. Casualties also mounted in the Austria side. After Feldmarshalleutnant von Brady was wounded early in the fighting, his successor, General-Major von Paar, commander of the 1st Brigade, was killed minutes after assuming command, and Colonel von Andrassy, of the 54th Froon Regiment , received five serious wounds in the fight. These losses contributed directly to the confusion that followed. As Lamarque's division advanced around the Austrian right flank, Colonel Christiani, of the 18th Light Regiment, saw a weak point in the line and deployed his men in a covered position that allowed them to get enfilade fire into the Austrian line, turning it into a deadly trap. In attempting to wheel around to meet this threat, a command from General-Major Stutterheim was misunderstood by Major von Arno, who ordered his Light Battalion to about-face and march away, an order that, for some unknown reason, all of Stutterheim's brigade thought applied to them as well thus, the whole brigade abandoned Deutsch-Wagram with Christiani and the rest of Huard's brigade first and then Lamarque's Division in hot pursuit until the Austrian heavy artillery released a devastating fire that drove them back. A counterattack with Feldmarshalleutnant Fresnel's division was driven back by a fierce charge of General of Division Broussier. Reluctantly, Lamarque ordered his division to fall back to the outskirts of Deutsch Wagram after losing about 1,000 men. Then Lamarque was mortally wounded and Général de Brigade Huard assumed division command. The unexpected change of command confused the French lines even more.
All in all, the carnage of the battle from 10:30 to 14:00 caused the French 3,000 casualties for 2.600 Austrian losses. Napoleon, persuaded that the center of the Austrial line was dangerously thinned, prepared to attack. If this broken sector of the enemy line was exploited, Karl's army would be divided in half and possibly defeated. The Imperial Guard was in reserve. The XI Corps, under Général de Division Auguste de Marmont, had just arrived with 10,000 men and 28 guns. However, with smoke and the confusion, Marmont confused his way and Napoleon was unable to notice it as he was preparing the Imperial Guard to march close to the front to follow the assault of Marmont. Only when the guns roared again at Deutsch Wagram the Emperor noticed that something was not going as he had planned.
Facing Marmont was an exhausted and depleted force still under General-Major Stutterheim's command. In the confusion of the advance and withdrawal and the new advance, only 3,500 Austrians and 18 guns defended the village against the whole XI Corps. Against all odds, they stood their ground for almost an hour. It was 16:00 when, finally, Marmont took Deutsch Wagram. Then, in application of Archduke Karl's plan to take the enemy in a double envelopment, Feldmarshalleutnant Klenau, commanding VI Korps, and Feldzeugmeister Kollowrat, commanding III Korps, moved forward towards the French left. Both commanders had received their orders very late and both had a long distance to cover before they could reach their assigned positions. They did their best to comply but, given their units only began to move at 15:30, six hours later than Charles had planned.
The attack developed into a serious threat to Napoleon's left flank and rear as Klenau had driven back at Aspern, with some advance units advancing as far as Essling, dangerously close to Napoleon's river crossing. He launched Massena's IV Corps to reinforce the left while Bèssieres launched a massive charge to cover Massena's redeployment. Klenau, seeing Massena advancing against his flank, withdrew to his starting positions. By then Archduke Johann of Austria had arrived on the battlefield. Thus the battle ended at 17:30. In spite of the timely arrival of his brother, Archduke Karl knew that he could not fight another day like that. His only realistic option was to begin an orderly retreat, which he ordered on the following day, directing each corps along its line of retreat. Strangely enough, Napoleon did not react immediately to this move, and when he ordered a pursuit, but the French army was also exhausted and shattered by fatigue and losses that was unable to launch any effective pursuit. All in all, Napoleon had lost 4,216 killed,19,098 wounded and 1,503 captured/missing. The Austrian losses were 6,562 killed, 15,162 wounded and 2,031 captured/missing.
In spite of commanding a cohesive force, Archduke Karl decided to retreat first to Bohemia (where his rearguard was mauled by Napoleon at of Znaim) and then to Galitzia. It was during this persecution that Napoleon was told that the largest amphibian force that Britain had ever assembled (35 fives ships and 39,000 men) had landed at Walcheren (July 30, 1809). Thankfully for him, the British commander, Sir John Pitt, 2nd Earl of Chatham, allowed himself to be bottled up by French troops and the arrival of Bernadotte by early August. This, along with the breakup of a fever among the Expeditionary Force and the lack of progress, led to the withdrawal of the Force in September. Lord Chatham was recalled in disgrace and his political and military reputation was ruined. Meanwhile, Archduke Karl was constantly able to evade Napoleon's persecution, but a few skirmishes and some cavalry clashes. However, by late July, his luck run short and was forced to face Napoleon in a small battle near Tovacov. It was a small alffair, but it made him to notice that his army was hardly a standing force but an exhausted rabble. The Armistice of Tovacov (July 28) ended the hostilities, but the war was not to end until the Treaty of Schönbrunn was signed on 14 October 1809, which finally closed the chapter of the War of the Fifth Coalition.
13. The Battle of Talavera (July, 1809) and its aftermath.
After Marshal Soult had retreated from Portugal, General Wellesley advanced with 20,000 British troops into Spain to join 35,000 Spanish troops under Prince Gabriel. They met at Miravete to discuss the strategy to follow. In Gabriel's opinion, the intelligence used by the British general was somewhat outdated and he trusted his own sources of information thus, he insisted that the French troops in front of them were way bigger than the British reports told. However, he agreed with Wellesley and they marched up the Tagus valley to Talavera, some 120 kilometres southwest of Madrid. At the same time, Albuquerque would attack with the army of Extremadura around the same time in the area of Ciudad Real to either destroy Major-General Horace Sébastiani's forces or, at least, to catch the attention of its commander. However, nothing went as planned.
As the Anglo-Spanish army marched, they found an unpleasant surprise: the 46,000 French under Marshal Claude Victor and General Sébastiani, with the French king of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte in nominal command of the army of Madrid. On his part, Albuquerque not only failed in his main mission and lost contact with Sébastini but also proved unable to take profit from his absence to march over Madrid. On the contrary, the commander of the Army of Extremadura remained outside Aranjuez and Toledo, thus helping Sébastiani with his inaction thus, the French general was able to advance to support Victor.
Both forces met to the west of the Alberche River. Victor, without waiting for neither Sébastiani nor Joseph, crossed the Alberche and attacked a hill known as Cerro de Medellín, but the British defenders held their ground and the French lost 500 men in the failed assault. In preparation for the imminent French attack, the allied armies took positions between the Tagus and the Cerro de Medellín, with the Spaniards holding the right flank, next to the city of Talavera, forming in three lines and being the strongest part of the defensive line. and with he British to the left, occupying the hill and placing an artillery shelter in the center of the lines. Meanwhile, the French commander argued bitterly about what to do next, as King Joseph and General Jourdan wanted to wait for the arrival of Soult's reinforcements (who, in the end, had been unable to do it due to the dangerous situation in the North), but General Victor pressed to attack. Thus, on the morning of July 29, the French launched a surprise attack against the hill, which resisted the onslaught after being reinforced by the 5th Spanish Division led by General Luis Alejandro de Bassecourt.
Wellesley's British army consisted of four infantry divisions, three cavalry brigades and 30 cannon, totaling 20,000 troops, while Gabriel's army was made of 35,000 and organized into five infantry and two cavalry divisions, plus about 30 artillery pieces, including some 12lb guns. Facing them was King Joseph, who nominally led the French Army, his military adviser, Marshal Jean-Baptiste Jourdan, who actually exercised command over their 37,700 infantry and artillerymen, 8,400 cavalry and about 80 cannons.
When the French artillery fired against the Allied lines, both commanders withdrew their men behind cover. Then, while Ruffin's division attacked the Medellín -each battalion formed in a column of divisions-, Victor launched a massive assault against the British positions while Sébastiani attacked the Spanish lines. The French were met by thunderous volleys from the Allied lines. Ruffin's nine battalions, unable to fire, broke and ran only the 9th Regiment of the Line managed to attack the cerro of Medellin but, isolated, it was cut to pieces by the defenders In the center of the British line, Victor's frontal attack against the British 1st and 4th Divisions had no better luck and suffered a heavy beating. Leval's division attacked the redoubt of Vergara, which connected the Spanish and British lines beaten in his two attacks, Leval withdrew after losing 1,000 men against the strongpoint 1,000 men against the strongpoint. The rest of the French force was received by the massive voley launched by the infantry of the 1st Division under John Coape Sherbrooke. Lapisse' division simply melted under the terrible punishment and withdrew in disorder. Sébastiani's IV Corps advanced in two lines using the same regimental columns that Ruffin had employed and met a similar fate when they got within effective range and they were riddled by the Spanish fire, too.
Undaunted, both Victor and Sébastiani reorganized his commands and launched another assault at midday. While a small gap opened in the center of the British line (it was closed with ease by Wellesley himself and the 48th foot, Gabriel's men had little trouble to repulse Sébastini's attack, and then launched an all out counter-attack against the French infantry, which formed into squares. The French fire caused high losses to the Spaniards, that withdrew away from the enemy fire and used their massed guns to blast away the enemy squares. This ended the battle as neither Joseph nor Jourdan used their reserves, something that would earn them the bitter criticism of Napoleon. The French lost 15,389 men: 944 killed, 6,294 wounded, 156 prisoners. The Allies lost 6,373 men . The Spanish casualties were about 1,215 and the British ones were 5,268, including 1,155 killed, 3,366 wounded and 1,089 prisoners.
After the battle, Wellesley and Prince Gabriel met to discuss their strategy. In spite of Gabriel's warnings, Wellesley's ignorance of the conditions in Spain at the time caused severe shortages of food to his own army. He complained about the failure of the Spanish to provide transport for the provision, unaware that there was no transport to be had for any army in that area. When Gabriel bluntly told him that his own men were in no better position than the British and that they were forced to live off the land like the French, something that the British were unable to do, the British General was deeply shocked. Thus, on August 3, he ordered a withdrawal to Portugal, as the logistical situation made impossible to follow with the success achieved in the battle. During the retreat, the British abandoned part of their baggage and ammunition and some of the artillery captured from the French at Talavera.
Joseph, who did not know what was happening in the Allied side after the battle and seeing Albuquerque in Aranjuez, ordered General Belliard, governor of Madrid, to fortify the park of the Retiro. However, Albuquerque did not move. He waited to receive orders from Gabriel and that proved to be his doom, as the French troops that were withdrawing from Talavera found Albuquerque's vanguard at Valdemoro, half-way between Madrid and Aranjuez. The Spanish army consisted of 22,000 infantry, more than 3,000 horses and 29 pieces of artillery, and was organized in five divisions. The Spanish commanders and his officers were so confident of victory that they disregarded all the established rules for camping out during times of military conflict, especially being so close to the enemy, who, the previous day, had crossed the Tagus River at Toledo and the Añover de Tajo fords, settling that same day, August 10, in the nearby town of Nambroca, a league away from Almonacid. Then, Albuquerque was informed about the Allied withdrawal to Portugal.
Thankfully for him, the French forces attacking him were Sébastiani's IV Corps, which had marched non-stop after Talavera. His commander, after placing himself between Albuquerque and Madrid, decided to attack the Spanish on 12 August in order to rest his troops. This gave time to the Spanish General to reinforce his positions and to prepare for the enemy onslaught. When it came, it was prepared for it. Sébastiani had with him 14,000 soldiers and only 20 guns as part of his Corps was still marching from Talavera. Determined not to give more time to his enemy, he attacked as planned. Albuquerque had deployed his army in front of Almonacid and on both sides in the following formation: Gaspar de Vigodet's division, on the far right, with much of the cavalry continuing to the left, Francisco González de Castejón's division was established on the Utrera hill, Tomás de Zeraín's division beside it covering the Santo hill, and Luis de Lacy's division closer at the Guazalate stream the 3rd division, Pedro Agustín Girón,'s, acting as reserve, was spread between the heights of Cerrojones, on the extreme left and the key to the entire line of battle, and the Cerro de la Cruz or Castillo hill, named for the castle ruins on its summit.
After intense artillery fire, returned in kind by the Spaniards, Jean François Leval with Polish and German-Dutch divisions attacked the Spanish left wing. This time, Leval was hardly more successful than in Talavera, as the 3rd Division twice repelled the Poles. Finally, the Poles were able to storm the vital position of the Cerrojones, even at great cost. The Spanish line held thanks to the intervention of Vigodet's division to close the gap. The arrival of the French reserve under General Jean-Joseph Dessolles forced Albuquerque to withdraw to avoid being surrounded by the Polish and German divisions. A large mass of Milhaud's much-feared dragoons charged towards the left, but Vigodet's men, forming in square, inflicted them a swift and vicious punishment. In the end, the Spanish army was able to disengage and to withdraw. The French, exhausted, did not continue active pursuit beyond Mora. The defeated Spanish army was able to take the Andalusia highway and arrive in good order at Manzanares. The French lost 1,200 men, and the Spanish 2,240 killed, wounded and prisoners.
14. The Spanish offensive (October 9 - November 26, 1809)
During July and August, both sides sat down to ponder about what to do next. On the Spanish side, it meant troubles. The Junta Central, which met in Seville, wanted to combine Prince Gabriel's forces with Albuquerque's and the army of La Mancha -all in all, 60,000 men- to take Madrid. The Prince disagreed with the Junta, which, in his opinion, overestimated the strength and the capacities of the Spanish armies while playing down the military capacities of the French force. Neither Madrid was ripe for the taking nor the French were a beaten force. True, the French invasion of Portugal had been an utter disaster that had helped to recover Galicia the south of Spain was still free while the French control over Aragon and Catalonia was reduced to their garrisons at Zaragoza and Barcelona and the bulk of the French armies were on the West, deployed from Asturias to La Mancha. However, the French armies were still too strong and Wellesley, now the Duke of Wellington, had withdrawn to Portugal and was not willing to return to Spain neither in a short nor in a medium term. After all, relations between Spain and Great Britain were not straightforward. Both countries had a long history of conflicts and the Spanish were deeply suspicious of the British intentions in Spain while the British had a low opinion of the Spanish army, which they considered to be poorly trained and badly led. Wellesley had began to change his opinion on the last subject after meeting Gabriel₁, but, even then, he requested to take command of all of the Spanish forces. Of course, this demand was rejected and caused a small and temporary drift between him and the Spanish prince, who was not in the best terms with the Junta, either. For a while, the "heroe of Madrid" became an outcast.
The French were on the defensive, waiting for reinforcements from France. Napoleon, however, had not finished bussiness in the East. He had defeated Austria, but Prussia was still at large. Thus, there was little to spare to Spain. Thus, the French forces were on their own and began to reorganize their lines. General Jean-Pierre-François Bonnet, who commanded a division in Soult's 2nd Corps, was charged with defending Santander and to keep the road to Burgos open Ney, on his part, protected Salamanca while Soult faced the British forces of General Moore and the Ejército de la Izquierda₂, led by Vicente de Cañas y Portocarrero, duke of El Parque. Mortier, Sebastiani and Victor manned the Talavera-Toledo-La Mancha line and Junot was in Zaragoza the French general, after securing Aragon, had marched against Barcelona just to be stopped by the Spanish forces under the command of Generals Blake and Theodor von Reding. Thus, the Junta reinforced the duke of El Parque's forces in Galicia (Moore, following Wellingston's example, was also unwilling to take part in an offensive that he considered to be unrealistic) and Gabriel's in south of Spain to launch a two-pronged attack against Madrid. Apparently, while Albuquerque fixed the enemy forces in the Tagus' valley and El Parque attracted Ney's attention, Gabriel would advance from the east towards Madrid. Then, something unexpected happened.
After conquering Zaragoza and pushing the Spanish forces back, Napoleon suddenly ordered the V Corps to be sent to Valladolid and Marshal Mortier was named commander of the North provinces. The French forces in Aragon were reduced to a single corps under Junot, and thus are forced to adopt a defensive strategy. Eventually, Junot would be replaced by Suchet, who was not in the place to assume command at once. Even worse, the French garrison in Catalonia remained isolated. Thankfully for them, Blake didn't seem in a hurry to move. The Spanish general was aware that he lacked a coherent force. Most of his soldiers were recruits who had joined the ranks in haste. They were badly trained, if they had any training at all, but for the division led by the marquis of Lazán, the only good unit of the whole army. The French superiority was going to be proven again, even if Suchet had a bad start in the battle of Alcañiz (May 23, 1809), where he was defeated by the Spanish general, losing 500 dead, 1,500 wounded and 40 prisoners against 300 dead and wounded in the Spanish side. Ironically, the Spanish line led by Lazán and the guns of brigadier Martín García-Loygorri e Ichaso defeated the French column, which had proved impregnable in the Peninsula until that day. Napoleon then decided to use the reinforcements that he was going to send to Aragon in a more profitable way. Thus, some 32,000 French and Westphalian troops under General Laurent de Gouvion Saint-Cyr crossed the Catalan border with France and marched south, ready to join hands with the garrison of Barcelona and thus take Blake from behind. That was the plan, but then Girona rose in revolt. This uprising was very bad news for Napoleon, as the city was strategically important because it controlled the main road between France and Spain. The Gerona defense was under General Mariano Alvarez de Castro, with about 9,000 regular troops and militiamen. The fortifications of Gerona were antiquated, however, since nothing had been done to modernize them since the War of the Spanish Succession, a hundred years earlier. At the beginning of May, General Saint-Cyr began setting up artillery batteries and fortifications, mounting 40 gun batteries, hoping to do a short work of the city's defenses.
Meanwhile, Blake at once demanded reinforcements, as he wanted to press his advantage and attack Zaragoza. Thus, the scope of the Spanish offensive grew out of proportion and included the offensive in Aragon, hoping that it would attract French reinforcements from the Castillian front, thus further weakening the enemy defenses. In fact, it happened in the wrong way. Suchet did not received any help from Castille while Blake was reinforced with 5,000 men from Prince Gabriel's force. However, by the time that Blake organized and prepared his forces to move towards Zaragoza, Suchet was ready for him. Prince Gabriel tried to persuade the Junta once more that the planned offensive was beyond the means of the current Spanish armies, but no one paid attention to him. In the end, Gabriel's efforts cost him dearly: he was stripped of most of his men, that were used to reinforce the other armies and thus he was reduced to remain on the defensive with barely 10,000 men, half of them veterans of his previous campaigns.
Then, Blake began his march with a pincer move towards Zaragoza, threatening Suchet's lines of communication with France. At the same time, El Parque marched against Salamanca with 28,000 men to fix the enemy's attention and Alburqueque, with 50,000 men, advanced towards Madrid. The change in the plans reduced Gabriel to be a passive witness of the events. On October 9, part of Marshal Michel Ney's corps under Major-General Jean Marchand left Salamanca to meet El Parque near Tamames. Marchand's forces consisted of his own 1st Division (3 battalions each of 6th Light, 39th, 69th and 76th Line), Major General Maurice Mathieu's 2nd Division (3 battalions each of 25th Light, 27th and 59th Line, and 1 battalion of 50th Line) and Brigadier General Jean Lorcet's cavalry brigade (3rd Hussars, 15th Chasseurs, 15th and 25th Dragoons). There were about 9,000 infantry, 2,000 cavalry and 30 cannon. Del Parque's army included Major General Martin de la Carrera's Vanguard, Major General Francisco Xavier Losada's 1st Division, Major General count of Belvedere's 2nd Division, Major General Francisco Ballasteros's 3rd Division, Major General marquis of Castrofuerte's 5th Division and the Prince of Anglona's Cavalry Division. Altogether there were about 20,000 infantry, 1,400 cavalry and 30 artillery pieces, after leaving behind some garrisons.
General del Parque drew their forces in a defensive line on a low ridge above the village of Tamames. Despite being on excellent defensive ground, the battle opened badly for the Spaniards as their cavalry was routed early on, and the Spanish artillery positions similarly fell to the French but were retaken at bayonet point by del Parque's gallant infantry. The French attacked in massed columns but never in enough strength to dislodge the Spanish. Whilst the French had excellent cavalry (a strange occurrence for the Peninsular Wars) the difficult ground meant that they could not be deployed effectively. Then the Spanish cavalry reformed and fell against the enemy flanks while the front of the columns were decimated by the withering fire of the Spanish infantry. A vigorous pursuit by the Spanish cavalry caused severe losses to the retreating French, who lost their colours and a 12-pounder. The French lost 1,300 killed, wounded and captured. There were 23 officers killed and 55 wounded, including Lorcet. Del Parque's army suffered 713 killed and wounded. After this success, El Parque entered Salamanca and begged Wellington to join him in an attempt to overrun Leon and Old Castile. However, the British general still refused to do so. Kellerman took command of the French forces facing El Parque and was reinforced with 8,000 men then he prepared to retake the city. This were good news for El Parque and the Junta: he had achieved his objectives and attracted French forces to him and away from Alburquerque.
Then, the Junta pressed Prince Gabriel to attack. In front of him he had Heudelet's corps, who had replaced Soult after the latter had been promoted to chief of staff of King Joseph, By then Prince Gabriel was deeply demoralized by his seemingly fall into oblivion and unwilling to jeopardize his small army, Even then, he attempted to flank Heudelet, who used his superior mobility to block each of his attempt. In the end, a stalemate ensued in the area, without any side willing or able to try to break it.
Alburqueque, with the strongest Soanish army in the field, needed to move fast to destroy the enemy forces piecemeal if he wanted to take Madrid. However, he moved fast, but not enough. Even then, the French were caught by surprise by the pace of the Spanish movements as they thought that no serious movement would be attempted in the area until past winter. By 9 November, Alburquerque, who had under his command 51,000 men in eight infantry and four cavalry divisions, with 60 cannon manned by 1,500 artillerists, was within 35 miles of Madrid with only 7,000 French troops blocking the pass. However, two days later Soult arrived with two divisions and took positions at Arganda, waiting for the arrival of Mortier's V Corps, who was marching at the double from Valladolid, threatening to flank the Spanish army. When his cavalry informed Alburquerque of Mortier's movements, the Spanish General ordered his forces to withdraw towards Ocaña, with the cavalry under Manuel Freire de Andrade covering the retreat.
The battle began as in Talavera, with the massed French battery pounded the Spanish center on the early hours of November 19, as Leval's Dutch and German Division attacked Castejon in the center of the Spanish line this time Leval was supported by Werlé's Polish infantrymen, who went in against Lacy's division. The Spanish held their lines and the attackers began to edge rearward. Soult ordered up Girard's division to support the wavering IV Corps battalions. While this was going on, Milhaud's dragoons, supported by Woirgard and Paris, charged and soon routed Freire's horsemen. However, when they wheeled their squadrons and prepared to charge against the unprotected flank of Lacy's infantry, Copons' division, which Alburquerque sent from Ocaña to cover the flank of Lacy, fired against the surprised French horsemen, who had to withdraw. At this crisis, Dessolles and the Royal Guard dashed across the ravine, pushed back Vigodet's men and burst into Ocaña, severing the Spanish left from the center and right. Zerain's division rushed to close the gap, but Alburquerque, seeing that the enemy massed guns were tearing apart his lines, ordered his army to retreat. As the Spanish army streamed away to the south, Zerain and Jacome's divisions remained intact to cover the retreat. Soult's cavalry pressed the pursuit, but could not break the Spanish rearguard.
The French captured 1,400 Spaniard soldiers, 5 cannon and 3 flags. Another 4,000 were killed and wounded. French losses were 3,300 killed and wounded. Although defeated, Alburquerque's army was still in fighting shape, even if it was obvious that his forces were to face the brunt of the incoming French offensive. A week later, Kellermann's colonne mobile fought a cursory engagement in Medina del Campo with some Spanish scouting forces however, when del Parque learnt of the Ocaña defeat, fearing that Joseph's forces were now free to concentrate against him, went into immediate retreat for the sanctuary of the sierras, leaving Salamanca. Kellermann raced in pursuit of the Army of the Left, catching up with it at Alba de Tormes (November 26). Not waiting for their own foot soldiers, the French dragoons and light cavalry fell upon the Spanish infantry, which had formed in squares. Without infantry support, Kellerman's horsemen suffered a hard time against the Spanish muskets. The French lost 300 men, for 60 Spanish casualties. However, the hard winter was a worse enemy than Napoleon's armies and, due to the harsh conditions, 3,000 men deserted the colors during the withdrawal of the Army of the Left to Portugal.
Then, on December 12, Girona surrendered to the French. On the Spanish side, it is estimated that some 10,000 soldiers and civilians died during the siege, mostly from disease or famine. Only about 8000 of the 14,000 inhabitants of the city survived, while about 3000 emaciated soldiers surrendered. French losses were approximately 14,000, over half of those to disease. Thus, Marshal Pierre Augereau, who had replaced Saint-Cyr towards the end of September, saw Napoleon's reinforcements cut to a half.
It goes without saying that the Spanish Junta was in panic after this disastrous campaign. They needed both an scapegoat and a heroe.
₁ - ITTL he has met Gabriel, not General Cuesta (thankfully).
₂- ITTL Army of the Left, the former Ejército de Galicia (Army of Galicia) led by Blake. The Ejército de la Derecha or Army of the Right is in Catalonia.
Battle of Almonacid, 11 August 1809 - History
In the year 1809, Masséna returned to active military service &ndash that was a tormented time period in European history, and opened a new front of military confrontation against the forces of the Fifth Coalition. Austria alone was fighting the mighty threat of quite uninterrupted French hegemony over most part of the Continental countries. When the French vanguard reached the Danube River, it was cut off and almost isolated. Facing untold strategic difficulties, Masséna led the troops of the 4th Army corps at the contest of Aspern-Essling. Because of his dogged determination and extraordinary efforts during this tought-contested clash, and on the field at Wagram (5-6 July), he was rewarded by the honorific title: Prince of Essling.
The Italian historian&rsquos most recent contribution to the field of Napoleonic studies offers a richly detailed research, a vivid picture of the personal experience and mentality of one prominent French general officer during the Danubian campaign (1809). This scholarly paper examines the formative psychological experience of a man, a soldier, and the incident and physical hardships of the lives some civilians endured following in his track at the Battle of Wagram. The acquisition of historical data particularly draws on the Mémoires of a resourceful and talented French officer named Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin de Marbot (he was born in the castle of La Rivière, at Altillac, Correze, August 18, 1782- Paris, November 16, 1854), and on his narrative and cultural practices &ndash related to the preservation of the glorious past of the Empire napoléonien.
However, not limited to the aforementioned source, the strict analysis of the exposed facts offers a multi-dimensional perspective and a fuller comprehension on the experience of warfare, which, at the distance of years, is from broader and more familiar historical narratives. The view is accurate no exaggerated rhetoric nor Napoleonic cult of the personality. Only the experience of the people who themselves participated in the action.
Masséna was not that highly experienced veteran as to inspire benevolence and feelings of acquiescence. A few associates thought him to be brilliant and a supposedly reputed soldier of the French Army. Imbued with a multi-faceted personality, his long-lasting military career was far-reaching and adventurous to an extreme. Views about his military qualities as well as his moral weaknesses were raised: from childish uncritical acceptance and admiration, to animosity and acrimony for a creature full of avarice and lust.
A couple of centuries later, whatever holds true is that two conflicted visions are standing: one conforms to sheer idealization, in the style of a fable, varnished of pseudo-aristocratic sophistry and claims of grandeur the other, that resonates powerfully in the XXIst Century postmodernity, relies instead on purely historic, on the reported French eye-witnessed accounts, so very upsetting on Masséna&rsquos character and on his real nature, as a man and military professional. This study is not concerned with any kind of judgement (that is God&rsquos realm) it aims to present original pieces of information and the consequential analysis one draws from them, a restitutio in integrum taken from the historical sources.
Therefore, this investigation strives to convey to modern history buffs and scholars what it was really like to have served under Masséna during the momentous period of the Austrian campaign. The narration provides the reader with an account of the highest points of Masséna&rsquos career: the first week of July 1809 &ndash a time of extensive meaning, well beyond the inherent complexities of strategy and military operations.
Masséna &ndash "Général d&rsquo un rare courage et d&rsquo une tenacité si remarquable, dont le talent croissait par l&rsquo excès du péril et qui, vaincu, était toujours prêt à recommencer comme s&rsquo il eût été vainqueur. C&rsquo était néanmoins un voleur [&hellip] et c&rsquo eût été un grand homme, si ses qualités brillantes n&rsquo eussent été ternies par l&rsquo avarice ".
Trsl.: "General of a rare courage and of a tenacity so remarkable, of which the talent grew by the excess of peril and that, won, was always ready to start again as if he had been victorious. He was nonetheless a thief [&hellip] and he would have been a great man, if his brilliant qualities had not been tarnished by avarice".
"As I have told you, the injury to his leg caused by the fall from his horse at Lobau had compelled Masséna to use a carriage at the battle of Wagram and the subsequent actions".
Comment: This first phrase, a linear sentence counting thirty-five words, apparently makes for easy reading and seems very simple of phase. It is semantically descriptive, very clear and defined in its essential specifications and grammatical construction.
The period begins with a &ldquonarrative past&rdquo conjugated in the verbal form of Present Perfect &ndash As I have told you &ndash, which conveniently leads to further investigation through the previous narrative passages of Marbot&rsquos extensively compiled Memoir.
Delving deeper in order to enhance the process of intelligibility of this histoire événemetielle (i.e. facts-based history), prompts the reader to page 232 thus leading to an adequate analytic understanding of the line.
The subject of the historic action is pointed out: a man, one prominent, distinguished personality of French Army fame, a high-ranking General-officer, more: monsieur le Maréchal d&rsquo Empire Masséna. The event, an impromptu accident, is circumscribed by three essential identification coefficients: the Aristotelian units of time, space, action.
The form of the narration and its unity, are provided by the plait and in the χρόνος [i.e. cronos]-tòpoi its fluency, corresponding to the function aptly suited to this specific memory &ndash Masséna&rsquos accident at Lobau and his post-trauma behaviour &ndash, continued to be the focus as the cornerstone.
To understand the reality of the present event, the relationship among the afore-cited theoretical rules of unity (determination in time, space, action) are necessary.
In each documentary source of the past communicated and formalized in a mémoire d&rsquo épopée (i.e. memoir of the epoch), the literary representation can be an organic means of transposition, as if the fact was just happening à la nature (i.e. in nature).
Unit of time: July, 1809 unit of space: Austria unit of action: military campaign of 1809, Lobau Island (Vienna).
This detailed auxiliary information forms the pillars on which the narrative episode is based. It is evident that the sentence contains one singularly presented fact.
The causal motivation of the physical injury of one lower limb suffered by Masséna, which seemed to compromise his role, his executive functions, and his services à l&rsquo armée (i.e. in the army): une chute de cheval (i.e. a fall down from the mount), is marginally mentioned, but neither explained nor given the reasons why it so unexpectedly happened. The consequences it engendered were the seemingly manifested immobility of the Marshal on the military operations against the Imperial forces of the Danubian monarchy.
The resolutions soon taken &ndash by the Marshal &ndash, or most importantly suggested by third parties &ndash however were not better defined.
There is anyhow fairly certain that the decisions were taken within the innermost circle (i.e. circle, a strict figurative meaning for party, group) of the subordinates, consequentially from the entourage militaire (i.e. accompanying military suite) of his Staff. The prevailing solution in place of consultation &ndash both medical, and military &ndash was therefore not to leave the line of duty, but to remain as an exampled devotion in the operative theatre, making himself available, utilizing different means of transport.
This sound decision excluded for Masséna the free mobility of walking on foot, as well as horseback-riding it consequently led to an expedient way out of this situation &ndash certainly significant, and quickly pondering the necessary and demanding military tasks. To take over all the adversities and Masséna&rsquos psychological state of passivity, the selected vehicle of locomotion was a wooden carriage.
"In the first instance artillery horses were to be harnessed to the carriage it was found that they were too long for the pole and not easy enough in their action, so four horses from the marshal&rsquos stable were substituted.
Two soldiers from the transport were to drive, and they were just getting into the saddle on the evening of July 4, when the marshal&rsquos own coachman and postilion declared that as he was using his own horses it was their business to drive. No representation of the danger into which they were running could deter them from their purpose the coachman got on the box and the postilion mounted just as if they were going for a drive in the Bois de Boulogne".
Comment: To provide a wheeled vehicle for traversing the battlefield did not appear to be an insurmountable obstacle, but a shortage of horses prevented the prompt activation of this mean of transport.
It was dictated by necessity not to fall back on the choice of battle mounts, but on horses pas attelés (i.e. unharnessed) from the services d&rsquo artillerie (i.e. artillery services) of the French army.
Difficulties were soon met at hand by the équipe (i.e. serving-team) which had taken hard-responsibility for this project &ndash to restore the Marshal&rsquos strategic supervising role.
Some observations denote that the coach was a horse-drawn carriage, with four wheels, and front and back passengers seats that faced each other. No mention is provided as to whether there was a roof &ndash an option not to be excluded &ndash, probably in two sections which could either be lowered or detached.
The arrangements to have the wooden vehicle set in motion did not involve major complications or drawbacks of any sort.
In due time, some horses were brought to move the carriage quickly. Because the artillery mounts were unfitted to the length of the flèche (i.e. pole) &ndash it was shorter than requested by the length of the mounts had to be changed.
A couple of tires à deux (i.e. two-in-hand) belonging to the Marshal&rsquos écurie (i.e. stable) and own possessions were to replace them. That was an advantageous alternative, immediately forming a swift and tolerably acceptable attelage à quatre (i.e. four-in-hand).
The conducteurs du service du train (i.e. drivers of the wagons service), just a couple of fellows, were ordered to serve in this new kind of mission and responsibilities which they had been assigned.
On July 4, after a lively-hot entre-nous (i.e. between us), a new assignation was &ldquosuggested&rdquo as Masséna&rsquos own cocher (i.e. coachman) and postillon (i.e. postilion) came &ldquoonto the scene of action&rdquo. The maison (i.e. household) of Marshal Masséna most probably was playing at the height of its reputation. In devotion and respect to their master and strictly conforming to the severity of the etiquette, et service (i.e. protocol, and modality of service), there followed an ostentatious display of gentlemanliness and fierceness à la campagne (i.e. in the field).
The reader can be remarkably struck by how well the two-men motivated alliance had chosen the right time and convenience for their disinterested display of talents &ndash or was that a cunning and calculated behaviour to favourably impress the Marshal&rsquos views? Have the postmodern history scholar and casual common reader alike to take any suspicious attitude on examining this textual matter? And when the reply they gave was that &ldquo[&hellip] it was their business to drive&rdquo the Marshal&rsquos mounts?
Their vigorous élan (i.e. dash) to face death was unparalleled. So the coachman took his siège (i.e. seat), and monsieur le postillon (an unnamed servant) did equally took his position [author: he was mounted on the first couple of horses, especially that on the left].
In addition, worth mentioning is that having a service-team merely composed by two persons was not an attelage à la d&rsquo Aumont (i.e. a harness named à la d&rsquo Aumont) [author: this is meant without the cocher, and with mounted postillons].
The whole choreographic effect was exhilarating, as monsieurs (aka the undaunted companions) had boarded the carriage and assumed postures as if they were in Paris, going for an outdoor drive in the famous Parisian western woods, Bois de Boulogne.
"The two brave servants were in constant danger for eight days, especially at Wagram, where many hundred men were killed close to the carriage, and at Guntersdorf, where the ball which struck the carriage went through the coachman&rsquos overcoat, and another ball killed the horse under the postilion. Nothing seemed to frighten these two faithful attendants, whose devotion was admired by the whole army".
The aplomb (i.e. composure, equilibrium) of the attendants is very strange and rather unusual. Was that a pre-determined choice? What did they gain by recklessly and unnecessarily exposing themselves to the highest degree of danger? Because they did it? Stubbornness, to the detriment of their lives? Trying to imperil their own existences? Was it worth risking life for above and beyond the demands of professional duty and country? What did they propose to gain from this recklessness?
In the very beginning, at Lobau, their consistent spontaneity and consent was a distinct factor to be accounted for in their profession &ndash at a later time, they appeared to have been &ldquoblocked&rdquo in greater development, a tremendous collision between the stoutly-disputing armies (French, Imperial forces) and the hindrances they came across the theatrum bellicum (i.e. theatre of operations) are not to be omitted from the strategy of the bloodily-fought engagement near Guntersdorf (Lower Austria).
One must take good notice of their deeds, and admit their behaviour was marked by firmness and by unthinking boldness &ndash with a defiant disregard for danger or consequences under mowing enemy fire and the master manoeuvring valiantly carried out by the troops of the Habsburgs monarchy.
On further examination of the literary text, one is better able to comprehend that the civilian attendants could not have recognized the subsequent scale of military dynamics. It would have been incredible to have expected them to be in such a terrible position on the line of fire and performed bravely for survival. They played an integral part, for the art of survival.
If &ldquoNothing seemed to frighten these two faithful attendants, whose devotion was admired by the whole army&rdquo, there is another point of observation which has to be considered. More than the conceptual significance of fidelity (indeed a bright mark), another evaluation to be taken into account is that of space &ndash safe space. Considering that the purpose was to accompany Marshal Masséna throughout the contended battlefield, and that the conditions &ldquoof engagement&rdquo had now changed because of intense enemy attrition, the assignment (because it had really turned into a mission on the line of battle) was implied to safely keep the carriage out of imminent danger and prevent its exposure to the murderous enemy volleys and shots."
|Marshal Massena at Wagram|
What is not marginal, is in this case the purest probity to preserve human lives &ndash a relevant circumstance which is in the actual state of things well in evidence. Consequentially, it was not a dedication to heroism, to the arms and filtered by the eyes of the military, but conduct strictly conforming to the &ldquogift of intelligence&rdquo and saving their lives (Masséna, the coachman, and his unarmed colleague, the postilion in addition to these two characters, there was one medical doctor named Brisset).
Undeniably, the trio of wonders was graced by a Supreme will. For sure, the attendants considered their formal duty not to vainly brave unexpected dangers, but could not escape their character of visibility the carriage, being drawn by four white horses, became the optimum target of carefully executed enemy shellings.
All the French army could not restrain from thinking how long it would have taken the Öesterreichische artilleristen (Austrian gunners) to blow up such a visible target, that vehicle that was challenging their professional proficiency. Meanwhile, shots were pouring down into the compact infantry masses, inflicting horrible carnage.
However the conditions were staked against all odds, this represented a challenge against fate, but the time had not come for Masséna to end his days. What makes this fact &ldquosingular&rdquo is that it indeed represented a &ldquopublic&rdquo event in the geography of Masséna&rsquos destinée (i.e. destiny). This is the truest lesson beyond the facts to be learned.
"Even the Emperor complimented them, and observed once to Massena: &ldquoThere are 300,000 combatants on the field now do you know who are the two bravest? Your coachman and your postilion. For all the rest of us are here in pursuance of our duty, while these two men might have excused themselves from being exposed to death. Their merit is therefore greater than that of anyone else&rdquo. To the men themselves he called out: &ldquoYou are two brave fellows!&rdquo. Napoleon would have certainly rewarded them, but he could only give them money, and he probably thought that this might offend Massena, in whose service the danger had been incurred, and, indeed, it was the marshal&rsquos business, and all the more so that he had an enormous fortune 200,000 francs as army leader, another 200,000 as Duke of Rivoli, and 500,000 as Prince of Essling. But for all that he allowed two months to pass without telling the men what he meant to do for them".
Comment: The Emperor Napoleon I had his eagle eye cast on the adventurous and tumultuous speeding of the calèche (i.e. carriage). In time, the mighty autocrat pronounced laudatory words (author: it was effectively an orally presented encomium) and showed his appreciation to the zealous self-abnegation of the civilian attendants.
In the later speech with Marshal Masséna it was interesting to note how Napoleon had unequivocally associated the two intrepid fellows to the military status, something comparable to the service régulier de ligne (i.e. regular service in the Line) further, he had deemed these braves worth of the 300,000 combatants hotly-engaged on the battlefield.
This hastily-thought comparison, palatable &ldquofruit&rdquo of the enivrement de la gloire (i.e. exaltation of glory), and of light-thinking, was in complete incongruence and a dysfunction of Napoleon&rsquos entirely dysfunctional activity for the following motivations: 1. &ndash in primis, Masséna&rsquos civilian attendants had any military status both of them were civilian employees 2. &ndash they did not belong to the roles to the armée Française (i.e. French Army), and had no definite assignment in the French Army ranks 3. &ndash by specification: they did not retain the military position of soldats réguliers (i.e. regular soldiers) 4. &ndash most importantly, they had entered into the field neither on military command, nor to kill any opposing Austrian foe their own commission was rather a &ldquosafety mission&rdquo and nothing else exceeding that virtuous accomplishment on Masséna&rsquos security.
Their affirmed task was therefore to preserve Masséna&rsquos life through carefully &ldquomanoeuvring&rdquo his carriage and handling it amidst the horrors and carnage of the fire-swept line of struggle &ndash and what a compelling challenge that turned out to be! The exhortative address &ldquo[&hellip] the two bravest [&hellip]&rdquo was largely euphemistic and abundantly eloquent. It was certainly a boutade expressive (i.e. expressive joke), an act à dédramatiser par la plaisainterie (i.e. to turn down the heat of the situation by laughing it off) and high flown rhetoric style in fact, Napoleon could not know in person all the soldiers of the Habsburgs Imperial Army, nor those of the French Army corps.
The venial construction of this absolute superlative denoted merely eulogistic terms pronounced at the height of his unbounded unreflective joy &ndash but that was a filtered preference accorded by Marbot&rsquos narrative methodology. Words proferred on the &ldquoplate of glory&rdquo, however deprived of any substantial recognition. An obvious statement of fact is that Napoleon was reciting his part of consumed actor, profusing his role of tempting seducer at the table of a victorious military outcome.
But the empereur was sincere in admiration of exampled duty, even if he did not understand the very chore of the difference: the Line soldiers were keeping to their oath of allegiance (to France, and to their emperor), while the seemingly audacious couple of civilian attendants had executed their stunning performance to protect Marshal Masséna&rsquos life.
In this case, it is significantly a difference of pourpose: a well grounded difference between the action of killing (a war enemy), and saving (a fellow compatriot). The use of each verbal form has an essential character on the dictionary of life: the first verbal form annihilated it, the second preserved the values of peace, blaming any act of continued belligerency.
Napoleon, always ready to reward valour &ldquoin action&rdquo and outstanding capabilities, definitely wanted to give a bonus to the undaunted couple, but could not exhibit such a spontaneous offer in order not to directly offend Masséna it was due to Masséna&rsquos sensibility to remunerate the plucky fellows for their chivalrous efforts.
This flagrant incongruence did not make a point, because Masséna was a rich tycoon, the kind of a prosperous Sardanapalus. His financial incomes were fabulous he got 200,000 francs in his position of Maréchal d&rsquo Empire, 200,000 francs from the princely title of Duc de Rivoli, and further 500,000 francs as Prince d&rsquo Essling. All of these major entries, that made a colossal amount of 900,000 francs &ndash a good deal of revenues, exempt from taxes.
Time unexpectedly passed by: days, followed into weeks, and months (a couple), and the episode which had occurred in the battle at Wagram seemed to have fallen into the fast-flowing waters of oblivion. Under this &ldquostrategic&rdquo behaviour, Masséna was trying to have the stiff experience which had happened at Wagram soon removed and forgotten. A conscious choice, deliberately thought. Luci ed ombre di una personalità conflittuale (i.e. lights and darknesses of a conflicted personality).
Surely a shrewd move, it was otherwise indicative of Masséna&rsquos overall limitations of character and défauts (i.e. flaws). The fluctuations of his ego were overshadowed by an égoisme remarquable (i.e. remarkable selfishness). To the valour of safety, he had postponed and finally opposed the dysfunctional trinomial of ingratitude (i.e. ingratitude), avarice (i.e. miserliness), and cupidité (i.e. cupidity) &ndash certainly not followed by a generous recompense. Masséna was detrimentally enslaved to the fallen gods, to the money-god &ndash and throughout his lifetime wealth had placed such a heavy-branded chain on him that it could no more be broken on the throne it had forged through his openness to greedy.
"One day when I and several of the aides-de-camp happened to be by Sainte-Croix&rsquos bedside, Masséna came into the room, and as we chatted over the events of the campaign, he said how fortunate it was that he had followed my advice and gone on to the field in a carriage instead of being carried by grenadiers, and thence he naturally went on to speak of the plucky conduct of his coachman and postilion. He ended by saying that he wished to reward them well, and was going to give each of them 400 francs. Then, turning to me, he had the face to ask if the two men would not be pleased? I had better have held my tongue, or merely suggested a rather higher sum but I made the mistake of speaking too plainly and mischievously into the bargain".
Comment: Weeks indeterminately passed and brought the twenty-seven-years-old Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin de Marbot to the marvellous capital city of the Habsburgs Empire: Vienna. The scenario of war had changed to a peaceful environment, and the civilian location was the mansion where General Sainte-Croix was passing his convalescence.
Occasioned by a visit of many aides-de-camp, the lively colloquial meeting was a pleasant rentrée (i.e. comeback) among fellow-compatriots and comrades in arms, when suddenly there appeared the braggadocious Masséna, le Maréchal d&rsquo Empire. His joyful mood resulted from the fact that the suggestion passed onto him by Marbot had allowed the option of carriage locomotion, instead of being presented by lesser alternatives &ndash relying upon the support of grenadiers on foot.
À la majeure (i.e. by superior force), the boasted memories which gave resounding emphasis (vantardise i.e. vaunt) to the services rendered to Masséna by his dauntless civilian attendants. All his claims &ndash loudly spread &ndash convinced him that both of them had been well-deserving, and had to be recompensed by a monetary bonus &ndash not exceeding the limitation of 800 francs from his feeling of thankfulness and appreciation.
On further confirmation that his generosity had been adequately profused &ndash and be himself praised for his manifest munificence &ndash, he asked Marbot all about that. Not surprisingly, a rather rhetorical question, confirming that the money was offered open-handed.
Marbot, sort of a free flowing discussion, honestly exposed his view on the &ldquoaffair&rdquo, not to understand that his words would have been a cutting edge on the Marshall&rsquos bargain and hardly enough to challenge the requirement of a huge outlay from his own purse.
Another relevant element to point out and to be underlined in the afore-cited passage is the embellished relationship within Masséna&rsquos military household. Iniured to all hardships, his Staff was most devoted in service and shared camaraderie (i.e. comradeship) of the military order throughout all its brave subordinate officers. A great motivating factor, was that these relations amicales (i.e. friendly connections) were distinguished by traits of rampant patriotism amid the hardened veterans, their dedication and courage driving them on.
"I knew perfectly well that Masséna only intended to give them 400 francs down but I answered that with a pension of 400 francs added to their savings, the coachman and postilion would be secured from want in their old age.
The eyes of a tigress who sees her young attacked by the hunter are not more terrible than were Masséna&rsquos on hearing me speak thus. He leapt from his chair, exclaiming: &ldquoWretch! do you want to ruin me? What! an annuity of 400 francs? No, no, no: 400 francs once for all!&rdquo.
Most of my comrades prudently held their peace but General Sainte-Croix and Major Ligniville declared plainly that the proposed reward was unworthy of the marshal, and that he ought to make it an annuity.
At this Masséna could restrain himself no longer he rushed about the room in a rage, upsetting everything in his way, even large furniture, and cried, &ldquoYou want to ruin me!&rdquo. His last words as he left the room were, &ldquoI would sooner see you all shot, and get a bullet through my arm, than bind myself to give an annuity of 400 francs to anyone. Go to the devil the lot of you!&rdquo. Next day he came among us again, very calm outwardly, for no one could play a part better but from that day forward General Sainte-Croix lost much of his esteem, and he bore a grudge against Ligniville which he let him see the next year in Portugal. As for me he was most angry with me of all, because I was the first to mention the annuity. The story travelled from mouth to mouth till it reached the Emperor, and one day when Masséna was dining with him, Napoleon kept bantering him above his avarice, and said that he understood he had at any rate given a good pension to the two brave servants who drove his carriage at Wagram. Then the marshal answered that he was going to give them each an annuity of 400 francs so he did it without having to be shot through the arm. He was all the more angry with us, and often said to us with a sardonic laugh, &ldquoAh! my fine fellows, if I followed your good advice you would soon have me ruined&rdquo" [Marbot, 1935, pp. 255-258].
Comment: Masséna had already decided what course of action he would have followed consequentially, he had prepared his moves well in time. And his lucrative economic speculation did not exceeded a substantial reward of 400 francs per caput (i.e. granted to each civilian attendant). This is meant to signify that the Marshal had planned his finances before the divergence of opinion that ensued among his Staff members.
Marbot was audacious, not to refrain from immediate speaking out. Quite remarkable is the fact that the skilful aide-de-camp bargained an annuity of 400 francs &ndash lifelong. Exactly on the meaning of beneficial gratitude. To discover how two completely different worlds collided, each at the mercy of the other is truly a lesson on extremely opinionated visions.
The spasmodic reaction of Masséna&rsquos enraged, fiery words surpassed the limits of true gentlemanliness. Flying into a fury, his eyes darting nervously, his uncontrolled fit of anger prevailed on his temperament and swept him away.
Masséna understood that his longed for plan had been discovered, and had turned into ultimate failure. A further remark: during this &ldquocounteroffensive&rdquo his pursue was greatly threatened by &ldquoforeign&rdquo interference. His economic proficiency was under heavy storm. Additional heads were to support this strenuous &ldquoassault&rdquo, and Général Sainte-Croix and Major Ligniville&rsquos efforts frontally collided with Masséna&rsquos harsh stinginess. As a consequence, a vehement dislike and counter-action on the part of the French Marshal ensued and, unworthy expressions were yelled out to the &ldquoallied&rdquo attacking-party.
From that thunderous batrachomyomachia, Masséna was no more in friendly terms with Sainte-Croix (who had supported the storming-force, and had not defended his superior), with Ligniville (guilty of the same choice he had assented too easily to collaboration, and to the shared view of frontal assault), and especially with the daring Marbot, la bouche de la verité (i.e. the mouth of the truth).
This trio of mousquetaires (i.e. musketeers), Alexander Dumas style, became detestable &ndash to Cardinal de Richelieu (aka Masséna).
The whole circumstanced episode had taught much, and the towering hot-tempered mood of Masséna rapidly widespread throughout the French army ranks it made for him an appalling notoriété (i.e. notoriety) for reprehensible acquisitiveness (a synonymic form for avarice). Anyhow, a blameworthy capricious attitude for a Marshal of France.
It made quite a sensation soon told, during a colloquial meeting and dinner time at Napoleon&rsquos table, His Imperial Majesty decided to have a fresh varnish on the &ldquoaffair&rdquo and to set it. The Emperor said &ldquohe&rdquo had understood Masséna had given a good enough allowance (pension) to the attendants as a token in admiration of outstanding conduct on the battlefield, at Wagram &ndash and the Emperor did always understand well, and straight to the point.
In no way he could be contradicted, in His Imperial comprehension and wisdom &ndash but only respectfully pleased. The main purpose of the Empereur was to put an end to Masséna&rsquos over gossiped behaviour. Such a superficial attitude was significantly damaging: to the armée Française (i.e. French Army), to the dignity of the French Marshalate, of which Masséna had been appointed a member since May 19, 1804, and to the name and personal reputation of this high-ranking personality.
Therefore, Napoleon had to beat off this detrimental hit, and its three open fronts of &ldquodestruction&rdquo. He had then to encourage for the final solution, and mitigate the bravery not yet rewarded of the civilian attendants still after quite a time &ndash which however would have confirmed the gossip that monsieur M. had largely deviated from virtue.
By inspired words, the mighty French autocrat thought instead to have that ever-growing item of gossip changed into an effective truth, thus averting every suspect. That was the will to be done: the monocratic will of the Emperor, fairly imposing on Masséna, and to not have Napoleon&rsquos own reputation disfigured.
More than a cunning stoke. Out of a moral embarrassement upon the great human values of existence, the history of generosity still continued under the Empire.
Remarks: on Honour and Money
One would be asked the following question: what kind of logic and thinking unveils the choleric behaviour and moves of Marshal Masséna during this particular occasion? Did his behaviour rely on being frugal (to the disadvantage of self-respect) or was it due to the severity of the economy (to the detriment of gratitude)? Undeniably, Masséna was a Maréchal who had distinguished himself on the battlefield in May 1809, at Essling &ndash but who during his lifetime was negligent regarding human feelings. The fact remains: the compensation paid to his civilian attendants did not exceed 800 francs &ndash as a whole. Was this the price of glory, or was it his miserable human fallibility? Did he not understand that human life is priceless? Did it equally signify that to Masséna, his personal safety was unworthy of reward?
From the vividly written narrative two distinguished categories of human behaviour are apparent. Together, they both are strictly denotative of two sides of the same medal: that of valour, and bravery in action &ndash opposed by the ignominious reduction of resolute courage. On the obverse of the &ldquomoral coin&rdquo Masséna had demonstrated to be l&rsquo enfant tombé de la gloire (i.e. the fallen child of glory) he had too often economized on behalf of personal enrichment and had a voracious appetite for money. On the other side, his Staff members exhibited firm conviction and character, of respect, of dignity &ndash and pure talent of analysis. The two sharply contrasted and quite antithetic ways of life and customs are simply amazing to most observers. The mark of Masséna&rsquos consummate avarice had become too much. It was a stain on his military household.
In this specific case, it is possible to present additional data to enhance one&rsquos reflection upon the affair, and its subtle implications &ndash deduced from the écriture mémoriale (i.e. memorial account). This truth is covered in a masterly fashion in the literary camouflage provided by Marbot&rsquos memoirs. The disproportionate cause between rectitude and avarice is provided by the following: A: Masséna&rsquos entries, as per year 1809: 400,000 francs B: established reward to the civilian assistants: 800 francs. The newly acquired piece of information is given by the factor C: (400,000 : 800 = 500). Not surprisingly, the above documentary piece presents that the disproportion of M.&rsquos avarice stood 1 to 500, and that final cost would have been corresponding to only 0,20 % of his 1809 yearly income.
Additional knowledge can be gained. By inductive calculation (but not really so, on paper), is it possible to understand how much the civilian attendants were to account for on Masséna&rsquos financial incomes in the six-year period from 1810 to 1815? Definitely, yes: A: Masséna&rsquos incomes after he was granted the title of Price of Essling were (900,000 x 6 =) 5,400,000 francs B: six-years annuity computed at (800 x 6 = ) 4800 francs. C: Masséna&rsquos total incomes after the outlay (5,400,000 - 4800 = 5,395,200 francs), confirm an objective incidence of 1,125 % on his grand total.
Modern history sources support the fact that Masséna was a money-driven, a master kleptomaniac in occupied towns (exempli gratia, for one acute case in Italy: Padua, 1797) and foreign countries, and an unbeatable strategic economist par excellence his attacks were always &ldquoconsuming&rdquo.
On the axiomatic base of Napoleon&rsquos pithy instructive apophthegm, &ldquoIt is with baubles that men are led&rdquo, this shrewdly-thought mimicry had always one person enacting in the Emperor role, and awarding favours and generous gifts to his military supporters and condescending political servants.
Throughout the years 1804-1809 there was one-directional &ldquogame&rdquo to play with and Napoleon I, the maître comédien (i.e. master actor), always had his men play the power game to consolidate his monocratic régime. Undeniably, the empereur was magnanimous: to his followers &ndash and to the people who supported his ever-increasing military ambitions, for conquest and domination.
Much to one historian&rsquos puzzlement are the motivations of why Masséna was rewarded in 1808 and given the Duke title of Rivoli (coincidentally, one very small country village in the neighbouring of Verona, Northern Italy). That was quite an honor for the intrepid determination he displayed on January 14, 1797, against the Imperial forces led by Feldzeugmeister Joseph Alvinczy, Freiherr von Berberek (February 1, 1735-Buda, September 25, 1810). In this way we better understand that the apparent title of Duc which was bestowed on him, had at first aristocratic implications, which were not at all effective. If it ever was a conferred nobility, it was sealed by the sacrifice of the soldiers who had perished in the clash &ndash both Austrian, and French &ndash therefore a supposed nobility, blood-soaked by that of the unnamed fallen.
This same cliché and methods of reward (a significantly tested modus operandi) were once again staged after the battle at Essling [where French casualties numbered 21,500 killed and wounded as well as 1,500 prisoners that was a coefficient of 34,84% out the entire armed forces vide: Rothenberg, Gunther E., The Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 1980, Appendix I, p. 251]. Later that date (July 1809), followed horrific days of fighting &ndash and for his dauntless efforts and outstanding leadership at the epic clash of arms, the Battle of Wagram [the French lost 19,000 killed and wounded, and 7,000 prisoners that was a ratio of 16,25 % out the whole active troops loc. cit.], Masséna was further rewarded (in January, 1810). For his military accomplishments he was awarded the distinctive title of Prince &ndash of Essling.
Was that not another destroyed village under military action? With the same bloody and unnamed fallen &ndash Austrian, and French.
What is disconcerting to note is that the ethos in the French Armed forces no longer shone with the glorious traditions of the past &ndash traditions which were deeply rooted in centuries-old experiences of military campaigns and heroic gestures.
More inspired choices to the Napoleonic regime would have been to stimulate the illustrious examples of their forefathers, and the exploits of knights and commanders of assured valour (just to name a few examples: César, Duke of Choiseul, 1598-1675 Frédéric-Armand, 1st Duke of Schönberg, December 1615, or January 1616-July 11, 1690 Nicolas Catinat, 1 September 1637- 22 February 1712 Sébastien Le Prestre, Seigneur de Vauban, 15 May 1633-30 March 1707 Jean-Baptiste-François Desmarets marquis de Maillebois, 1682-1762 Charles-Louis-Auguste Fouquet, duc de Belle-Isle, 22 September 1684-26 January 1761 Maurice, comte de Saxe, 28 October 1696- 20 November 1750).
This heritage would have probably meant a continuity (historical, and moral), and possibly signified a process of legitimization with the ongoing Napoleonic military traditions &ndash but it never happened, and that was the most colossal failure.
Napoleon was the source of his own autokráteia (i.e. despotism, absolute power) and own mistakes &ndash and quite a number of devoted puppets fell in the trick-game of the master they had chosen to serve. Was not their motivation meant to serve their home-country, France?
This absorbing study is essentially aimed (but not contained) to stimulate a discerning analysis on a couple of specific concepts: consequential reflections are stressed on the price of glory &ndash in terms of human losses &ndash, and distinctions from the vainglorious cost of &ldquoglory&rdquo, that is the provided economic proficiency (a huge amount of 900,000 francs) one Maréchal d&rsquo Empire (in this case Masséna) gained after tremendous bloodsheds (Essling) and wasting military collisions (Wagram) &ndash to connive with the régime of French military power.
Further, one in-depth question is left: upon the consideration that Masséna was given a princely title, were these benefits the spoils of glory, of the titled glory of monsieur le Prince to acquiesce with the Napoleonic military despotism?
Time has now passed. To his contemporaries Masséna was never considered the epitome of chivalry, of probity, of true nobility (properly comprehended as of aristocratic descent and family branch) a parvenu (i.e. social climber), he never remained disinterested to his personal aggrandizement, and had a penchant (i.e. tendency) to sordid avarice. Avarice begins where poverty ends, recited a motto.
Admittedly, lacking conduite morale, et dignité de comportement (i.e. moral conduct, and dignity of behaviour) was the hallmark of his persona.
If he had had a model to have lead him along the path of virtue, he would have been quite an heroic figure &ndash but he was not, in accord to his freedom, to think, to choose, to act. And he remained the sacripant de la gloire (i.e. rascal of glory) &ndash a supposedly figurative vainglory.
One more question would thus follow: did he not know that the once famous palladium of the French army was a fighter named Pierre Terrail LeVieux du Bayard (castle of Bayard, 1473-Romagnano Sesia, 1524)? And that this amazing military figure was nicknamed &ldquole chevalier sans peur et sans reproche&rdquo (i.e. the knight without fear and without reproach)?
Illiterate soldiers could also exhibit heroism, pity and magnanimity. The point? Was Masséna illiterate or educated? Was Bayard illiterate?
During wartime and on the field of battle anyone can become a hero and demonstrate courage and integrity under pressure, regardless of their age, position or class: noble, serf, commoner.
By compared analogy, we are reminded of Audie Leon Murphy (June 20, 1924-May 28, 1971), the Texas farm boy and sharecropper, who joined the U.S. Army at age 16 he was only about 5&rsquo5&rdquo and weighed about 115 pounds. Yet he became the most decorated U.S. combat soldier of WWII and Medal of Honor (the highest military award for bravery conferred to any individual in the U.S.A.) recipient.
1809, 5 January: Treaty of the Dardanelles (aka Dardanelles Treaty of Peace, Commerce, and Secret Alliance otherwise mentioned as Treaty of Çanak, or Treaty of Chanak) concluded between Britain and the Ottoman Empire. A ratified clause affirmed that no warships of any power should enter the Straits of the Dardanelles and the Bosporus, and strict observance to this diplomatic principle had to be followed.
12 January: Cayenne (French Guiana) is taken from the French (until 1814) by the British.
16 January: French tactical success attained at the battle of la Coruña , in Galicia (Spain). Napoleon leaves Spain.
18 January: British forces evacuated northern Spain territories after the clash at Corunna.
1 February : Dutch King Louis Napoleon accepts metric system.
1 February : Napoleon is back in Paris to prepare war operations against Austria.
8 February: H.I. and R.M. The Holy Roman Emperor (Heiliger Römischer Kaiser) Francis I of Austria declared war on France.
20 February : After protracted siege operations and brutal street fighting, the French took the ciudad of Saragossa (Spain).
25 February: Battle of Valls .
13 March : The King of Sweden, Gustav IV Adolf, was deposed in the royal palace through a conspiracy of army officers led by Carl Johan Adlercreutz. The monarch voluntarily abdicated on March 29 deposed together with his family heirs, he was expelled from the country.
17 March: Battle of Villafranca.
28 March: First Battle of Porto.
28 March: Battle of Medellín.
31 March : Celebrated Austrian composer Franz Joseph Haydn died in Vienna one month after his 77th birthday.
8 April: Austrian troops attacked Bavaria.
10 April: Fifth Coalition formed: the Austrian Empire, Britain, and rebel Spain, declared against the Napoleonic Empire in a &ldquoWar of Liberation&rdquo.
15 April: Pordenone (Italian front).
16 April: Sacile (Italian front).
18 April: Teugen-Hausen ridge action.
20 April : The French gained a signalled martial victory over the Austrian at Abensberg, in Bavaria.
21 April: Victory reported against Hiller&rsquos troops at Landshut.
22 April : Battle of Eckmühl (also known as Eggmühl) and Egglifsheim &ndash Napoleon succeeded beating Archduke Charles of Austria.
23 April: attack and conquest of Rastibonne.
26 April: British army forces landed at Lisbon (Portugal) under Arthur Wellesley (later duke of Wellington).
29-30 April: combat of Soave (Italian front).
29-30 April: combats of Cassano di Tramigna, Monte-Bastia, Castel-Cerino, Fittà, Monte Foscarinetto, Monte Foscarino (Italian front).
8 May: Piave River (Italian front).
12 May: Second Battle of Porto.
13 May: The capital-city, Vienna, occupied by the French troops.
13 May: Schwarzenlackenau, and Worgel.
16 May: Malborghetto (Italian front).
17 May: Colle del Tarvisio (Italian front).
17 May: France annexed the Papal States.
21-22 May : Battle at Aspern-Essling: Austrian Archduke Karl defeated Napoleon.
24 May : H.M. Prison Dartmoor (Devon, England) opened to house French prisoners of war.
31 May : The Prussian cavalry officer Ferdinand Baptista von Schill who had rebelled against the French domination was killed in street fighting at Stralsund (he was aged 33).
15 June: Battle of María (Belchite).
5-6 July: Austrian Army forces got a reverse at the battle of Wagram.
12 July: Armistice of Znaïm ceased hostilities (till August 20) between Austria and France. Austria evacuating Tyrol, Styria, and Carinthia.
27-28 July: Battle of Talavera.
10 August: Ecuador declared independence from Spain (National Day, proclamation of the Republic).
11 August: Battle of Almonacid.
13-14 August: French are defeated by Tyrolian levies at the strenuously fought battle at Berg Isel. By election, Hofer is appointed ruler of Tyrol.
17 September : Peace between Sweden and Russia Finland, the Åland islands, and a north-eastern strip of Sweden were ceded to the victors.
25 September: French and Bavarian forces are defeated by Josef Speckbacher at Lofer.
14 October: Treaty of Schönbrunn (known as the Treaty of Vienna) ended the War of the Fifth Coalition: Austria had to cede Trieste, Istria, Dalmatia, and Carinthia, to France compensative portions of land were added to the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Bavaria gained instead Tyrol and Salzburg.
19 October: Ratification of the Treaty of Schönbrunn .
19 November: Battle of Ocana.
10 December : Peace treaty signed between Sweden and Denmark.
15 December: Napoleon divorced Joséphine because of her inability to beget him a male hair.
16 December : Napoleon Bonaparte divorced Empress Joséphine by the French Senate.
26 December : English invasion troop left Vlissingen (Netherland).
Bibliography and Further Reading
Chandler , David, G. (Edited by). Napoleon&rsquos Marshals. Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, 1987.
Chlapowski, Dezydery. Memoirs of a Polish Lancer. The Emperor&rsquos Press, 1992.
Delderfield, Ronald Frederick. The March of the Twenty-Six The Story of Napoleon&rsquos Marshals. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1962.
Dunn-Pattison, Richard Phillipson. Napoleon&rsquos Marshals. London, Methuen & Co., 1909 Little, Brown and Company, Boston: 1909.
Headley, Joel Tyler. Napoleon and His Marshals. New York, Hurst & Company, 1850.
Macdonell, Archibald, Gordon. Napoleon and His Marshals. London New York, The Macmillan Company, 1934.
Marbot (Baron De). The Memoirs of Baron De Marbot, late Lieutenant-General in the French army. Translated from the French by Arthur John Butler late fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. London, Longmans, Green, and Co. and New York: 1892.
Marbot (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason Jr.. Charles Scribner&rsquos Sons, New York, London, 1935.
Young, Peter. Napoleon&rsquos Marshals. Reading: Osprey Publishing, 1973.
Amic, Auguste. Histoire de Masséna. Paris , 1864.
Augustin-Thierry, A.. Masséna. L&rsquo enfant gâté de la Victoire . Paris, Éditions Albin Michel, 1947.
Beauregard (G., de). Les Maréchaux de Napoléon. Tours, Mame et Fils, s.d..
Beauregard (Comte de). Le Maréchal Masséna, Duc de Rivoli, Prince d&rsquo Essling, enfant de Nice. Résumé de sa vie. Nice, Imprimerie Veuve Eugène Gauthier et Cie, 1902.
Bondois, Paul. Masséna. Paris, Picard et Kahn, 1887.
Chardigny, Louis. Les Maréchaux de Napoléon. Paris, Flammarion, 1946.
Chlapowski, D.. Mémoires sur les guerres de Napoléon, 1806-1813. Paris, 1908.
Dictionnaire Napoléon . Sous la direction de Jean Tulard de l&rsquoInstitut. Librairie Arthème Fayard, 1999.
Dupont, Marcel. Napoléon en campagne. Paris, Hachette, 1950-1952.
Gachot, Édouard. Histoire militaire de Masséna (1795-1799). Paris, Perrin et Cie, 1901-1904.
&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash Histoire militaire de Masséna. 1809, Napoléon en Allemagne. Paris, Plon, 1913.
&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash&ndash Histoire militaire de Masséna: Le siège de Gênes (1800). Paris, Plon-Nourrit, 1908.
Gavard, Charles. Galerie des Maréchaux de France, 19 Mai 1804. Dédiée à l&rsquo armée de terre et de mer. Éditeur: Au bureau des galeries historiques de Versailles. Paris, 1839.
Hulot, Frédéric. Le Maréchal Masséna. Paris, Éditions Pygmalion, 2005.
Kirgener (Général de Brigade). Précis du siège de Dantzick fait par l&rsquo armée française en avril et mai 1807. À Paris, De l&rsquoImprimerie de Migneret, 1807.
Lacroix, Désiré. Les Maréchaux de Napoléon. Paris, Garnier frères, 1896.
Marshall-Cornwall, James, Handyside, (Général). Masséna &ndash L&rsquo enfant chéri de la victoire. Préf. du général Cartroux. Paris, Plon, 1967.
Marbot (Baron de, Général). Mémoires. Paris, Plon, 1891.
Masséna (Maréchal). Mémoire de M. le maréchal Masséna, duc de Rivoli, prince d&rsquo Essling, sur les événements qui ont eu lieu pendant les mois de mars et d&rsquo avril 1815. Paris, 1816.
Masséna. Mémoires d&rsquo André Masséna duc de Rivoli, prince d&rsquo Essling rédigés d&rsquo après les documents qu&rsquo il a laissés et sur ceux du dépôt de la guerre et du dépôt des fortifications, recuillis par le général Koch. Avec un Atlas. Paris, Paulin et le Chevalier, 1849-1850, réedition à: Paris, Jean de Bonnot, 1966-1967.
Paulin, Jules, Antoine, (Général, baron). Les souvenirs (1782-1876). Publiés par le capitaine du génie Pauilin-Ruelle, son petit-neveu. Paris, Plon, 1895.
Sabor, Pierre. Masséna et sa famille. Ses origines. Du Royal-Italien à l&rsquo armée d&rsquo Italie. Masséna. Général de la République (1785-1794). Aix-en-Provence, Editions de la revue " Le Feu " , 1926.
[Author: a writer with this name never existed this was the nom de plume of Jean Giraud who in 1927, in Paris, composed a thesis-work entitled Masséna et sa famille &ndash 1758-1794].
Thiry, Jean. Wagram. Éditions Berger-Levrault, 1966.
Toselli, J., B.. Notice biographique sur Masséna. Nice, 1869.
Tranié, J., Carmigniani, J.-C.. Napoléon et l&rsquo Autriche . La campagne de 1809. Paris, Copernic, 1979.
Valentin, René. Le Maréchal Masséna (1758-1817). Paris-Limoges-Nancy, Charles-Lavauzelle & Cie, 1960.
Balbo, Cesare. Scritti Militari. Edizioni Roma, Torino 1935.
 "The first week in July, the Emperor has 150,000 men at hand. The night of the fourth brings a terrific storm. In the rain and wind, a shock column of grenadiers &ndash St. Croix leading, as a reward for his hard work &ndash rushes across the old bridge that goes to Aspern. Down the river, a little past the Austrian left, they fling the pontoons into position, and toil also at temporary bridges. On the upper end of the Island, a great battery scourges the Austrian centre and right. When daylight comes, the French Army is across the Danube, its weight fairly on the Austrian left. The fifth of July, the two armies spar for position. Archduke Charles manoeuvring to strengthen his compromised flank. On the sixth, they fight, the Austrians trying to drive down and cut the French from their bridges.
Masséna has the attack groups on the French right. He was unable to mount his horse, because of a fall a few days previous, and he leads in his carriage &ndash an elegant affair, drawn by four white horses" [Marbot, 1935, p. 232].
 André Masséna (Nice, Alpes-Maritimes, 6 May 1758-Paris, April 4, 1817), 1st Duc de Rivoli, 1st Prince d&rsquo Essling, Maréchal d&rsquo Empire.
His native homeland was at that time part of the Kingdom of Sardinia. He was the son of the shopkeeper Julés Masséna, and his wife Marguerite Fabre, who had married in 1754 (August 1). In 1789, Masséna had a nuptial tie (August 10) with mademoiselle Anne Marie Rosalie Lamare, who was a native of the town of Antibes (September 4, 1765), and would die in Paris on January 3, 1829. The domestic relations of the family were set at Antibes this locality was accorded the best choice as living-place.
Residing in Antibes, brought a numerous progeny to the Massenas: to shortly name, a child died in childhood Marie Anne Elisabeth (July 8, 1790-March 18, 1794) Jacques Prosper, 2nd Prince d&rsquoEssling (June 25, 1793-May 13, 1821) Victoire Thècle (September 28, 1794-March 28, 1857) François Victor, 2nd Duc de Rivoli, 3rd Prince d&rsquoEssling (April 2, 1799-April 16, 1863).
In May 1804, Masséna ascended the ladder of the military hierarchy, and entered the Marshalate of France. There can be no denying the fact that he was motivated by a desire to attain personal valour, and he never truly dissociated himself from the ethos of Napoleonic military conquests and power.
Four years later (August 24, 1808), he was granted a new honour: a ducal victory title (namely 1st Duc de Rivoli). He was further rewarded in 1810 (January 31) for his determinated efforts at the stoutly-disputed Battle of Wagram (July 1809) he gained a second victory title (1st Prince d&rsquoEssling).
André Masséna , general-officer and legislator, was the son of Jules Masséna, owner at Levens his mother named Catherine Fabre.
1771: his early life began as a cabin boy 1775, 18 August: enlistened as common soldier in the 1er bataillon d&rsquo infanterie légère (régiment Royal-Italien) 1776, 1 September: caporal 1777, 18 April: sergent 1783, 14 February: fourrier 1784, 4 September: adjudant sous-officier 1789: left the army, and retired to his native town 1791, 21 September: adjudant-major in the 2e bataillon de volontaires du Var 1792, 1 February: elected at Vence lieutenant-colonel en 2e of the 2e bataillon de volontaries du Var 1 August: lieutenant-colonel en premier September: at the 3e brigade of the armée du Var under the adjudant général Jean-Jacques-Bernardin Colaud de La Salcette 1793, 17 August: chef de brigade of the 51e d&rsquo infanterie 22 August: was promoted général de brigade 20 December: appointed provisional général de division 22 December: commander of Toulon campaign of Italy: 1794, 17 April: in command of the French vanguard, took Ormea and Garessio 29 April: he distinguished himself at Saorgio, where he captured ninety artillery pieces 8 May: occupied the col de Tende 29 August: confirmed in the rank of général de division September: commander of the division of Albenga 21 September: combat of Cairo 22 September: occupation of Dego 22 December: left the command due to wealth issues 1795, April: took the command of the 1re division of the armée d&rsquo Italie 25 June: repelled by the Austrian at Melogno 27 June: failed in the attack at the redoubt of Melogno 23-24 November: had a great share at Loano, a victory reported by Barthélemy-Louis-Joseph Schérer over the Piedmontese and Austrian troops the following year: distinguished at the col de Borghetto 27 March 1796: serving under General Bonaparte at the Armée d&rsquo Italie after Millesimo he was given the command of the Grenadiers companies formed in operative corps 10 May: crossed the Adda River at their head was the first to enter at Milano, the capital town of the Austrian Lombardy 3 June: occupied Verona 3 August: won at Lonato 5 August: served at Castiglione 6 August: at Peschiera 8 September: served at Bassano 14 September: pushed back at Due Castelli fought at Roveredo 15 September: served at San Giorgio 8 November: combat of Fontaniva 12 November: Caldiero November 15-17: at the battle of Arcole 1797, 12 January: combat of San Michele 14 January: at Rivoli 16 January: at La Favorita, where he well deserved the nickname of l&rsquo enfant chéri de la victoire 5 March: commander of the 1re division of the armée d&rsquo Italie 22 March: combat of Tarvis 2 April: won at Neumarkt 2 April: Unzmarkt 9 May: came back to Italy, bringing to the Directory the ratification of the preliminaries of Leoben 12 July: came back to Italy with the ratification 14 June: commander of the 1re division following the reorganization of the armée d&rsquo Italie 1798, 12 January: appointed at the armée d&rsquo Angleterre 3 February: commander of the detached troops from the armée d&rsquo Italie which had to occupy the Papal states 23-25 February: was obliged to leave Rome, and to pass his military command to général Claude Dallemagne Masséna had many troubles with his military subordinates, and he had to face military sedition 8 March: called to Genoa, by order of the Directory 16 August: appointed commander of one division at the armée de Mayence 9 December: was called back to service, and given the command of the armée d&rsquo Helvétie (a force of 40,000 men which had to fight 100,000 Austrians under the Archduke Charles, and generals Bellegarde and Hotze) 11 December: arrived in Zurich 1799, 6 March: invaded the Grisons 7 March: took Coira 22 March: Feldkirch 25 September: gave orders to four infantry divisions (37,000 men) to cross the Limurat, under Zurich, and assaulted Korsakov (25,000 soldiers) 26 September: at Zurich, he had a resounded military success over Korsakov&rsquos forces, capturing 200 guns and 5,000 prisoners 7 October: won at Andelfingen 23 November: appointed commandant en chef of the armée d&rsquo Italie (35,000 men), at the place of Jean-EtienneVachier, called Championnet 1800, 17 January: established his Headquarters at Nice February-4, June: besieged at Genoa by General Ott 13 August: after the battle of Marengo he kept the command of the armée d&rsquo Italie, but he was soon replaced by Guillaume-Marie-Anne Brune on account of his continued depredations 23 September: obtained one yearly pension of 30,000 francs 1801, 6 October: obtained one sabre d &rsquohonneur 1803, 28 July: took up his functions with the Corps Législatif 1804: Maréchal d&rsquo Empire 1805: decorated with the grand aigle, and chef of the 14e cohorte of the Légion d&rsquo honneur 30 August: sent to the Italian front, to fight the Archduke Charles of Austria 18 October: took the town of Verona 30 October: bitter fighting of Caldiero 11 December: commander of the 8e Corps of the Grande armée 28 December: commandant en chef of the armée de Naples 1806, 9 January: took his executive command at Bologna was ordered to take possession of the kingdom of Naples 12 February: took Capua 14 February: entered into Naples with Joseph Bonaparte 26 February: siege of Gaeta 19 July: capitulation of Gaeta August: occupied the Calabrie 21 December: came back to Naples 1807, 12 January: left Naples to reach the Grande Armée to Poland 24 February: commander of the 5e Corps of the Grande Armée, at the place of Jean Lannes 6 March: took possession of his command at the place of Savary 1808, 19 March: was make Duc de Rivoli 24 April: confirmed in this title by letters patentes 1809, 23 February: appointed commander of the corps d&rsquo observation of the armée du Rhein distinguished in the Danubian military campaign 21 April: distinguished at Landshut 22 April: Eckmühl 23 April: took Straubing 3 May: incurring heavy losses, took the town, the bridge, and the castle of Ebersberg 22 May: at Aspern-Essling commander of the left wing of the French Army at the battle of Wagram 6 July: severely tested near Aspern 11 July: supported Auguste-Frédéric-Louis Viesse de Marmont near Znaïm November: obtained the permission to come back to France 1810, 31 January: created Prince d&rsquo Essling, with majorat, was given the princely castle of Thouars 17 April: commandant en chef of the armée de Portugal 10 May: took his executive command in the town of Valladolid 10 July: took Ciudad Rodrigo by capitulation 28 August: Almeida 27 September: lost the battle at Busaco 1 October: at Coimbra October 1809-March 1811: blockade of the fortified line of Torrès- Vedras 1811, 6 March: reached the Spanish border 3-5 May: battle of Fuentes de Onoro 7 May: after his failures in Portugal and Spain, he was disgraced by Napoleon and substituted by Maréchal Marmont 1812: had no military command 1813, 16 April: gouverneur of the 8e division militaire 1815, 2 June: appointed peer of France 22 June-8 July: general-commander of the garde nationale in Paris 3 July: gouverneur of Paris.
The name of maréchal Masséna is inscribed on the Southern façade of the Arc de Triomphe de l&rsquo Etoile
 The Lobau, a vastly extended marshy area located on the northern side of the Danube River (and near Grossenzerdorf), is a Vienna floodplain. Its etymology corresponds to the meaning &ldquowood in the water&rdquo.
 "The other event nearly deprived the Emperor of the aid of Masséna himself in the coming battle. One day, as he and Napoleon were riding round the island, the marshal&rsquos horse put its foot in a hole and fell, injuring its rider&rsquos leg so that he could not keep his saddle. This was the more annoying that the battle was to take place on the same ground as that of Essling, which Masséna of course knew well. He showed, however, his determination by asserting that in spite of his pain he would be taken on to the field in a litter, like Marshal Saxe at Fontenoy. A litter was got ready but it struck the marshal upon a remark which I ventured to make, that this mode of transport was rather pretentious and not so safe as a light carriage, which, with four good horses, could get him about the ground more quickly than men. It was therefore arranged that he should go thus, accompanied by his surgeon, Dr. Brisset, who changed the compresses every hour with perfect coolness under fire during the two days which the battle of Wagram lasted, and in the subsequent fights" [Marbot, 1892, Vol. II, Chapter II].
Early XXth Century historiography works reported that:
"On another occasion, while they were riding round the island &ndash author: Lobau &ndash, the Marshal&rsquos horse put its foot into a hole and fell, and injured the rider&rsquos leg so that he could not mount again. This unfortunate accident happened a few days before the battle of Wagram, so the Duke of Rivoli went into battle lying in a light calèche, drawn by four white horses, with his doctor beside him changing the compresses on his injured leg every two hours" [Dunn-Pattison, Richard Phillipson, 1909, pp. 62-63].
More sustained evidence from the French school:
"Au cours de cet après-midi du 3 juillet 1809, le cheval de Masséna buta sur une racine et tomba. Le maréchal, pris sous sa monture, fut fortement contusionné. "Vite un brancard", commanda l&rsquoEmpereur qui l&rsquoavait vu tomber. Conduit à l&rsquoambulance, Yvan ne releva sur le corps de Masséna que des contusions et deux plaies profondes sur la cuisse. Masséna se désolait d&rsquoêtre blessé à la veille d&rsquoune grande bataille. Il décida de se faire porter sur une chaise: "Mon cher Masséna, dit l&rsquoEmpereur, il faut employer une voiture, pour aller d&rsquoune division à l&rsquoautre et voir clair devant vous. [&hellip]". Il recommanda à Masséna d&rsquoêtre prudent et de ne pas se forcer" [vide: Thiry, 1966, p. 171].
Trslt.: "During this afternoon of 3 July 1809, the horse of Masséna bumped into one root and fell. The Marshal, caught under his mount, was badly injured. "Quickly a stretcher", ordered the emperor who had seen him fall. Taken to the ambulance, Yvan did not notice on the body of Masséna that some bruisings and two deep sores on the thigh. Masséna saddened himself to be wounded on the eve of a great battle. He decided to have himself brought on one chair: "My dear Masséna, told the Emperor, it is needed to use a carriage, to go from one division to the other and to see clear in front of you. [&hellip]". He recommended to Masséna to be prudent and not to force himself.
Author: we note that this modern specification diverges from the text written by Marbot.
As the French historian Thiry quotes the work of Marbot [Marbot, Général, baron de, Mémoires, Paris, Plon edit.] in his Bibliography [Thiry, 1966, p. 293], it is almost inexplicable why the credit was given only to Masséna not to have left the active military operations. Another fairly strident literary discrepancy does appear: Thiry wrote that Masséna had said he would have been moved in a chaise (i.e. chair, wooden frame). Further, that a fortiori ratione the Empereur had instead suggested for a voiture (i.e. carriage). This affirmation was substantially correct, but it was not Napoléon who pronounced this advice &ndash as well explicated in Marbot&rsquos narrative. Notwithstanding Masséna&rsquos stoic demeanour, he reached the operative line by means of a calèche découverte (i.e. open carriage).
 This matter is more complex than the reported date the accident truly happened.
An eye-witness account, extrapolated from the Pamietniki of Dezydery Clapowski (1992, transl.: Memoirs of a Polish Lancer) &ndash a thoroughly enthralling account of his participation in some of the major campaigns during the Napoleonic wars, makes for captivating reading &ndash, and quotes a significant piece of information about one incident which had happened to Masséna on July 6, 1809. A seasoned veteran, who never lost touch with the grim realities of warfare, the Pole wrote:
"On one occasion I found Massena sitting down behind the wall of a house, resting. I gave him the Emperor&rsquos order and straight away he called for his horse and jumped into the saddle. But he found the right stirrup strap to be too short, and called his orderly to come and lengthen it. While waiting, Massena sat side-saddle, with his right leg resting on the horse&rsquos neck. At this moment a cannon ball struck the orderly stone dead and tore off the stirrup. The horse shied sideways and the Marshal tumbled into my arms" [Chlapowski, 1992, p. 68].
Author: the cited date is probably not correct, or just puzzling. At this date, Masséna was already moving by means of the carriage. It ensues: this war accident happened before July 6. It is obvious the fall from the horse had consequences made worse by the second episode (that recalled by Marbot), and accidental cause.
Adam Desiderius Chlapowski was born on March 29, 1789, at Turew, near Kosten.
A few biographical traits include: 1807: served in the trenches of Danzig March 3: he was awarded the French Légion d&rsquo honneur (i.e. Legion of Honour) 1808, February: selected to act as one of Napoleon&rsquos orderly officers in the Spanish campaign 1809: acted in the same role, and fulfilled those duties in the Danube campaign in Austria 3 April: awarded the Polish Order Virtuti Militari (the highest military decoration for gallantry bestowed to Polish soldiers) August 15, 1810: baron de l&rsquo empire 13 January, 1811: appointed chef d&rsquo escadron (i.e. squadron commander) of the 1st Regiment of Polish Light-Horse-Lancers of the French Imperial Guard 1812: served in Russia 1813: disillusioned by Napoleon&rsquos intrigues, he left his service shortly after the collision at Bautzen. Died in 1879.
 Under this precise definition of wheeled transport the reader would be prone to understand that a carrosse (horse-drawn vehicle), a calèche (calash), but not a berline. The correct interpretation leads more properly to the calèche.
On this theme, Paulin, one French officer of the génie and aide-de-camp to Général Henri-Gatien comte Bertrand, presents exhaustive elucidations.
"A midi, rien ne paraissait se décider encore de grands mouvements s&rsquo opéraient de part et d&rsquo autre. On voyait le maréchal Masséna, rappelant [&hellip] Maurice de Saxe à Fontenoy, parcourir les rangs de ses divisions et leur imprimer sa bouillante ardeur, porté dans une calèche que ses chevaux conduisaient partout où le danger réclamait la présence d&rsquoun chef".
Trslt.: Wagram - "At midday, nothing seemed yet to be decided some great movements were carried out from one side and the other. One could see the Marshal Masséna, recalling [&hellip] Maurice de Saxe at Fontenoy, traversing the ranks of his divisions and leaving to them the imprint of his hot ardour, brought by a calash that his horses led everywhere where the danger asked for the presence of a leader".
Author: Maurice de Saxe was born in Gotzlar (Saxony) on October 28, 1696. An illegitimate child of Frederick Augustus II, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland his mother: the Countess Maria-Aurora von Königsmark. 1745, 11 May: under his authoritative leadership, he led into action 40,000 French troops at Fontenoy (Belgium) &ndash to fight the Austrian-Dutch-Hanoverian troops (50,000 men) under William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (1721-1765). The Allied attack was beaten off, to the cost of some thousands casualties [vide: Espagnac, Baron De. Histoire de Maurice, Comte de Saxe, Duc de Courlande et de Sémigalle, Maréchal-Général des Camps et Armées de Sa Majesté Très-Chrétienne . Lausanne et Neuchâtel: Société Typographique, 1774 Néel, Louis, Balthasar. Histoire de Maurice comte de Saxe, Maréchal Général des Camps et Armées de sa Majesté Très Chrétienne, Duc élu de Curlande et de Sémigalle, Chevalier des Ordres de Pologne et de Saxe, [&hellip] [&hellip], enrichie des Plans des Batailles de Fontenoy et de Lawfeldt. Dresde, Georges-Conrad Walther, 1755 Saint-Rene Taillandier. Maurice de Saxe. Étude historique d&rsquo après les documents des Archives de Dresde. P. Lévy, 1865 Saxe, Maurice, comte de. Les Rêveries ou Mémoires sur l&rsquo Art de la guerre de Maurice comte de Saxe, duc de Courlande et de Semigalle . Lahaye, Pierre Grosse, 1756 White, J., E., M.. Marshal of France: The Life and Times of Maurice, Comte de Saxe. 1962].
 This temporal specification sets the date after September 6, 1809.
 Escorches de Sainte-Croix (Charles-Marie-Robert, comte d&rsquo).
Synopsis: 1782, 20 November: born at Versailles 1805: attached to the cabinet of Talleyrand, Minister of foreign relations, partecipated in the Italian campaign as volunteer in Masséna&rsquos état-majeur 7 December: chef de bataillon in the régiment étranger of la Tour d&rsquoAuvergne 1806, February: came to Paris arrested after an affair with M. de Mariole, superior officer in the same regiment, who seemed to have been killed after a duel 31 March: appointed major, while kept in prison 13 May: set free, and sent back to his regiment by order of the Emperor served at the armée de Naples 1807: served in Poland 24 February: aide-de-camp of Masséna 6 December: received the order to reach his regiment 1808: served in the armée de Naples 1809, 1 March: first aide-de-camp to Masséna 21 April: at the combat of Landshut 1 May: took a flag at Neumarkt 5 May: appointed Colonel 20 May: was the first to cross from the island of Lobau to the left bank of the Danube 31 May: officer of the Légion d&rsquo honneur 8 June: chevalier of the military order of Bade 4 July: was the first to cross the Danube at Enzersdorff and took possession of the village, 6 July: wounded at Wagram 11 July: served at Znaïm 21 July: appointed général de brigade.
 "As for Sainte-Croix, who had his skin grazed by a cannon-ball, his wound was not dangerous, at which his friends rejoiced. [&hellip]. Although Sainte-Croix had been only two months colonel, and was not yet twenty-seven, the Emperor made him major-general, Count with 25,000 francs pension, Grand Cross of the Order of Hesse, and Commander of that of Baden" [Marbot, 1892, Vol. II, Chapter III].
Masséna headquarters remained at Vienna till November 14, 1809 [Marbot, 1935, p. 255].
Général Sainte-Croix was kept some months in bed by his wound. This talented young officer was comfortably quartered in the von Lobkowitz palace, where Masséna had installed his lodgings as well. Palais Lobwowitz, a huge baroque architectural building near the Augustinerkirche (i.e. Augustinian church), is nowadays still located on the Lobkowitzplatz (address: Lobkowitzplatz 2).
 This is a point not to be underestimated it concerns the developing-system of inner relations traced in this narrative passage. It properly enhances distinct inter-actions: Général Sainte-Croix versus Masséna&rsquos Staff (A, first course of relation), and Masséna&rsquos Staff versus Général Sainte-Croix (B, second pole of relation). The recognized character of these military spheres is fundamental, and the officers&rsquo signalled aptitudes for reciprocal Staff advancement and honour duties as well. Shortly afterwards, Masséna &ldquoopened&rdquo instead another distinctive line (C, third pole of relation), although he kept the leading-head in the pyramidal structure of command and military hierarchy. A further confirmed line is provided by Masséna (C) versus his subordinates Staff-officers. These are precise inter-actions which easily indicate the &ldquogeometries&rdquo (a triangle: A, B, formed the base C, the apex) and functional modalities inside this maison militaire (i.e. military household).
 One could also assume that well-known heroes of battles are sometimes given credit for actions that someone less well-known actually accomplished. The salient point is that although Masséna was grateful for their loyalty and courage, he did not remunerate them accordingly or as generously as he should. Was Masséna impervious to adequately rewarding his civilian employees? Perhaps he considered their salary enough compensation especially in view that they volunteered to drive the carriage instead of allowing the military personnel to drive it.
 "During 1806 Marshal Masséna received the greatest defeat of his life. After sweeping into Naples at the head of a strong army to place King Joseph Bonaparte upon his new throne, the old smuggler settled down to a life of ease, luxury, and profit. For the blockade against England and English goods, though not in full force until the Berlin Decrees towards the end of the year, was sufficiently strong to make the sale of trading licenses a very profitable business. Masséna threw himself into the trade with zest, and the money came pouring in. But the all seeing eye was watching, and a despatch arrived from the Imperial Headquarters ordering King Joseph of Naples to inform the Marshal that three million francs, which he had secretly hidden in a bank in Livorno, had been confiscated. The King had not the nerve to face the cold, hard eye of Masséna, and he sent a general instead. The general received his orders at midnight, and, trembling in his shoes, he repaired to the vast, gloomy pile of the Acton Palace and knocked nervously at the Marshal&rsquos door. The Marshal came out after a long delay, wearing a cotton night-cap and a huge dressing-gown of green taffeta, and the perspiring general broke the news. With iron self-control Masséna restrained his temper, and said coldly, &ldquoThe Emperor thinks, then, that we are fighting to give a throne to his puppy of a king. I do not want the money for myself. I have been a private for five sous a day. But the Emperor has given us a position and the title of Marshal, and we must maintain them&rdquo. Up to the end of his life Masséna mourned the loss of his Livorno millions" [Macdonell, 1934, pp. 133-134].
- – Cao Bá Quát, Vietnamese poet (d. 1855) – Louis Braille, French teacher, inventor of braille (d. 1852) – Cornelia Connelly, American founder of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus (d. 1879) – Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, French anarchist (d. 1864) – Edgar Allan Poe, American writer and poet (d. 1849) – Felix Mendelssohn, German composer (d. 1847)
- date unknown – Samuel Ajayi Crowther, 1st Black Anglican Bishop, pioneer linguist (d. 1891)
- 卡爾 （ 英语 ： Karl Georg August, Hereditary Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel ） （1766年—1806年） （1768年—1821年），英國王后
- 奧古斯特（1770年—1822年） （1771年—1815年），不倫瑞克-沃爾芬比特爾親王
- , 16th President of the United States (d. 1865) , British naturalist (d. 1882)
- , American statesman (d. 1896) , English clergyman and mathematician (d. 1871)
- – Alfred, Lord Tennyson, British poet (d. 1892) – Heinrich Abeken, German theologian (d. 1872) – Hannibal Hamlin, American politician (d. 1891) – Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., American physician and writer (d. 1894) – Volney E. Howard, American politician (d. 1889) – Raphael Semmes, American and Confederate naval officer (d. 1877) – Fanny Kemble, British-born American actress and writer (d. 1893) – Kit Carson, American frontiersman (d. 1868) – William Ewart Gladstone, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (d. 1898)
ECW Campaign Battle Fifteen: The Battle of Wembley
The Situation: After his recent victories, King Charles decided that bold, aggressive action was called for and he simply decided to march directly south to London. The small garrison shut the gates and called upon the Earl of Essex to succour them. Knowing his army was marginally stronger than that of the King's, he marched as quickly as he could, to drive off the King and his army and save the capital. the Royalist Army awaited him around a farm near Wembley.
This is a must win battle for Essex, failure risks the fall of London.
King Charles (Average)
Generals: Astley (Good) Byron (Average), Gerard (Average)
Horse: 30 bases Veteran Horse (S), 4 bases Raw Horse, 1 base Raw Dragoons
Foot: 14 bases Veteran Foot (SH), 2 bases Raw Foot (SH)
Guns: 4 bases of Guns
Earl of Essex (Average)
Generals: Waller (Good) Skippon (Good) Brooke (Average)
Horse: 46 bases Veteran Horse (D), 1 base Veteran Dragoons
Foot: 16 bases Veteran Foot (SH), 2 bases Raw Foot (SH)
Guns: 5 bases of Guns
卡尔·威廉·斐迪南，不伦瑞克-吕讷堡公爵，不伦瑞克-沃尔芬比特尔-贝芬亲王（英語： Charles II William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, Prince of Brunswick-Wolfenbuettel-Bevern ，德語： Karl II. Wilhelm Ferdinand, Herzog zu Braunschweig-Lüneburg, Fürst von Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern ）（1735年10月9日－1806年），普鲁士陆军元帅，不伦瑞克-吕讷堡公爵。18世纪中期现代战争中他是一个公认的大师，也是一個有知識教養且仁厚的開明專制君主，接近腓特烈大帝那樣的模範君主。他也是數學家卡尔·高斯的主要贊助人。
出生于德国沃尔芬比特尔（ Wolfenbüttel ）。从1780年起，他是不伦瑞克-吕讷堡公爵到逝世。他巨大的軍事名聲，首先得自於七年戰爭，特別是1757年的哈斯滕貝克之戰；1787年他以普魯士陸軍元帥的身分，接受普王腓特烈·威廉二世的指令，率領二萬普軍到荷蘭共和國鎮壓當時反對荷蘭省督威廉五世的普遍騷亂。兵鋒所至，荷蘭暴亂迎刃而解，他的軍事行動幾乎沒有流血，堪稱迅速、確實而完美，在當時人的眼中被視為完美的統帥典範。
本條目出自公有领域： Chisholm, Hugh (编). 大英百科全書 (11th ed.). 劍橋大學出版社. 1911.
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TIROL PANORAMA and Kaiserjäger Museum
A trip to Innsbruck would not be complete without taking time to visit the famed Tirol Panorama. The museum is an architectural masterpiece in its own right, and it offers a journey through the history of Tirol, building up to the key event that is the battle between Napoleonic troops and the Tyrolean rebels led by Andreas Hofer in 1809, which took place in the exact spot the museum is located today.
The most famous battle was the Third Battle of the Bergisel in which the Tyroleans fought off the invaders on August 13, 1809. The battle was memorialized in a vast, century-old panoramic painting that is 1,000 square meters (10,764 square feet) in area and constitutes the centerpiece of the museum. The huge and historic 360-degree cyclorama not only helps to retrace the dramatic events unfolding amidst the impressive scenery of the Bergisel, but is also remarkable in its artistic qualities. It is accentuated with bullet shredded trees, cannons, and war-torn land, giving the viewer the perspective of being in the battle. The Tirol Panorama also is filled with numerous displays that provide visitors with a wonderful way to learn more about the area within the large, permanent exhibition entitled &ldquoShowcase Tyrol&rdquo. The history of Tirol is explored in detail in many exhibits, covering the topics of religion, nature, politics, anthropology and local culture. Some exhibits are whimsical in nature and feature displays like a cable car gondola and various stuffed animals. The Tirol Panorama is linked to the Kaiserjäger Museum (Museum of the Tyrolean Imperial Infantry) by an underground passage. Documenting Tirol&rsquos military history of the 19th and 20th century, the museum's historic collection is tied closely to the drama that unfolded on the Bergisel. After visiting the museums, take a walk along the 2.2-kilometer Panorama Loop Trail that circles Bergisel Mountain and offers amazing and uninterrupted panoramic views of Innsbruck and its Alpine surroundings. Trailhead is at the Tirol Panorama Museum.
Battle of Almonacid, 11 August 1809 - History
Welcome to Historycal Roots.
Our original aim was to bring history to life by introducing real historical figures into an imagined setting, combining real history with imaginative story telling. We have broadened our scope as we became more and more interested in exploring all sorts of different ways of raising awareness of the black and mixed heritage people who have played a part in shaping the way society looks today but whose role has been overlooked or not given the credit they are due. Some of what we are involved in feels more like ‘making’ history rather than simply recording it!
We have books that are aimed at children of primary school age. Children develop reading skills at different paces and so it is difficult to specify an age group that they are aimed at, maybe six to eight.
We have started to introduce more titles, including short biographies aimed at adult readers with an interest in history.
We started as a husband and wife team who, between us, have many years of experience of teaching and writing. We believe children learn best when their imaginations are engaged. We have been joined by a friend, Bill Hern, who shares our passion for Black history and whose contributions have enhanced and enlivened the site’s content.
A quick word about how to find what you are looking for on the site: we haven’t created an index yet but you can use the ‘search’ box to see if we have articles on something you are interested in – not ideal but it does work!
Thank you for visiting, if you are interested in Black British history we hope you enjoy what you find.