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had been appointed aide-de-camp to Marshal Masséna, and after the fall of Genoa was sent to Milan, under one of the conditions of the surrender, to inform General Bonaparte of the fact, it being considered by Masséna of the greatest possible importance that early information should reach him. He followed Bonaparte to Marengo, and acted as his aidede-camp in the decisive battle there.
force on a war. The cavalry of the Royal Guard, he says, sharpened their swords on the doorsteps of the French ambassador's house. On being questioned by Napoleon on his return, and informing him of this incident, the emperor exclaimed with indignation, "The braggarts will soon learn that our arms are in a good state." War soon broke out, and Marbot was again with Marshal d'Augereau in the Jena campaign.
On the renewal of war with Austria in 1805, Marbot was again employed as Later he crossed the Vistula with the aide-de-camp, this time with Marshal army, and took part in the terrible winter d'Augereau, who commanded a corps d'ar- campaign in Poland, and in the battles of mée at Brest. This corps marched three Landsberg and Eylau. At the former, the hundred leagues, from Brest to the fron- light cavalry charged the Russians, but tier of Switzerland, in two months. Mar- were repulsed; Napoleon then ordered up bot was incessantly employed in carrying the heavy cavalry, under General d'Hart orders from one corps to another, and was poul. They attacked the Russians, and sent on a most dangerous mission across completely annihilated eight battalions. the Splugen Pass, then almost impractica- Never was there a cavalry charge with ble in the early winter, to General Mas- such brilliant results. The emperor, Mar. séna, in command in Italy, but returned bot says, to testify his satisfaction with in time to take part in the manoeuvres the cuirassiers, embraced their general in which culminated at Austerlitz. He men- the presence of the division. D'Hartpoul tions an incident of this battle not referred exclaimed: "To show myself worthy of to elsewhere. An Austrian corps, finding such an honor, I should allow myself to themselves between two fires, endeavored be killed for your Majesty." He kept his to escape across the lake of Satschan, word, for the next day he died on the field then frozen. When they had reached the of battle at Eylau. Quelle époque et centre of it, Napoleon summoned the artil. quels hommes !" says Marbot. At Eylau, lery of his guard, and ordered them to fire one of the most terrible battles of the shot on the ice. This broke it up in an century, and where the losses in killed and infinite number of points and the water wounded on both sides formed a larger rose through the cracks. "We saw thou- proportion than in any other battle, ansands of Austrians, with their horses, cient or modern, the corps of General guns, and carriages, gradually sink in the Augereau was almost entirely destroyed. gulf. A very few succeeded in saving Of fifteen thousand men there came out of themselves by means of ropes which the action only three thousand. The marshal French soldiers threw them from the bank, was wounded; all his generals and colobut the bulk of them were drowned." The nels were killed or wounded. Marbot next morning, as Napoleon was standing himself was severely wounded, and eson the edge of the lake, surrounded by his caped death only by a miracle. The story generals and their staff, they observed an of his escape on his mare Lisette is one Austrian officer lying on a floating piece of the most extraordinary in the book, of ice. He was unable to move, as his and is worth quoting, though, for brevity's thigh was broken. Seeing Napoleon's sake, I have been compelled to omit staff, he called out to them in piteous many graphic details which add to its incries for assistance. By the direction terest and sense of reality : — of Napoleon every effort was made to save him, but in vain, till Marbot volunteered to plunge into the freezing water, and swam out to the ice and succeeded after great efforts in guiding it to the edge of the lake, whence the officer was rescued.
On the conclusion of the war he returned to Paris, and was thence sent by Napoleon with despatches to Berlin. At this capital he was witness of the intense hatred of the Prussians to France, and of the intrigues of the queen and others to
Lisette was a mare of fine quality and great speed. She had, however, one defect, she bit like a bull-dog and threw herself with fury on persons who displeased her. She could only be saddled by the aid of five persons, but once on her back the mount was incomparable. . . . Such was the mare I mounted at Eylau at the moment when the debris of the hail of bullets, endeavored to concentrate near corps d'armée of Augereau, crushed by the the great cemetery. The 14th Regiment re mained alone on a hill which it had been ordered not to quit by the Emperor himself. The snow having ceased for the moment we
perceived the intrepid regiment surrounded
When I gave to the officer in command of the Regiment the order to retire, he observed that the handful of men remaining to him would be exterminated if it descended into the plain, and that there was not time to execute the movement as a column of Russian infantry was marching on them at a distance of only a hundred yards. "I see no means of safety," he said; "return to the Emperor, and bid him farewell on behalf of the 14th Regiment, which has faithfully executed his orders; convey to him the eagle which he gave us, and which we can defend no longer; it would be too painful to us in dying to see it fall into the hands of the enemy." The captain then gave me the eagle, which the soldiers saluted for the last time, with cries of "Vive l'Empereur.".. At the moment when I was leaning forward to receive the eagle, a cannon-ball struck and passed through the peak of my hat close to my head. ... I was all but annihilated by the blow, but did not fall from my horse. Blood flowed from my nose, my ears, and even from my eyes; still I heard, I saw, I
understood, and preserved all my intellectual faculties, though my limbs were so paralyzed that I could not move a single finger. . . . Meanwhile the column of Russian infantry charged the hill. Gorged with brandy, they threw themselves on the feeble remnant of the 14th Regiment, who defended themselves valiantly with their bayonets, and when the square was broken fell into groups, and sustained for a time the unequal combat. In the mêlée which ensued I received a bayonet wound in the arm. Another blow was aimed at me by a Russian soldier, but in his drunkenness he lost his balance, and his bayonet struck the hind-quarters of Lisette. The mare, mad with pain, reverted to her ferocious instincts; she rushed on the Russian, seized him by the face, and with her teeth tore away his nose, lips, eyelids, and all the skin, and left him a most terrible spectacle - une tête de mort vivante toute rouge. Then rushing furiously in the midst of the combatants, Lisette threw herself against every one she met in her way. A Russian officer having laid hold of her bridle, she seized him by the belly, and lifting him with ease, she carried him beyond the mêlée to the foot of the hill, where she trampled on his body, and left him dying on the snow. Then, renewing her course by the road she had come, she galloped at full speed to the cemetery. Thanks to the hussar saddle on which I was seated, I maintained myself on the mare. When nearly at the cemetery a new danger befell me. I found myself in front of a French battalion of the Old Guard, who, unable to see any distance on account of the heavy flakes of snow, took me for an enemy leading a charge of cavalry. The battalion fired on me. My cloak and saddle were riddled with shot, but I was not wounded, nor was my mare, which charged the battalion, and passed through its ranks with the greatest ease. . . . This last effort exhausted her power; she had lost much blood, one of the veins of her hind-quarter having been cut; the poor beast suddenly collapsed and fell on one side, while I rolled off on the other. Stretched on the snow, among the dead and dying, not being able to move, I lost consciousness. At last I fainted away, and was not even roused by the great tumult which ninety-six squadrons of Murat's cavalry made in charging near me, if not over me. I reckoned that my fainting-fit lasted four hours; when I revived I found myself completely naked, having nothing left on me but my hat and my right boot. A soldier of the baggagetrain, thinking me dead, had stripped me, according to custom, and, wishing to tear from me the remaining boot, had planted his foot on my belly for better purchase while pulling at my leg. The efforts of this man had the effect of reviving me. I was able to raise myself and to clear my throat of blood. The shock caused by the wind of the cannon-ball had been such that my face, shoulders, and breast were black, while the blood flowing from the wound in my arm reddened all the
rest of my body. My hat and my hair were filled with snow, colored with blood. The soldier turned from me, and bolted with my clothes before I could utter a word. In this condition, with night approaching, when I must have died of cold, nothing but a miracle could save me. This second miracle did
The man who had taken Marbot's clothes, while returning to the camp, showed his booty to a comrade who was driving a fourgon, in which there hap pened to be a servant of Marshal Augereau, to whom Marbot had rendered some great service. This servant recognizing his benefactor's uniform by an Astrakan collar, the only one of its kind in the division, and wishing to see for the last time his dead body, induced the soldier to take him to the spot where it lay, and there he found Marbot still alive. The joy of this man was great. He summoned help. Marbot was brought into camp, and by careful nursing was ultimately cured. The surgeon declared that the bleeding from the bayonet wound had probably saved his life from the effect of the wind of the cannon-ball. It is satisfactory to know that Lisette also recovered.
After some days in hospital at Warsaw, Marbot returned to Paris, and was not fit for service again till the following spring, when he rejoined the army, this time as aide-de-camp to Marshal Lannes, and he was in time to take part in the battle of Friedland. On the eve of the battle he delivered a message from Lannes to the emperor, when the latter asked him, "Have you a good memory? What anniversary is this?" "That of Marengo," replied Marbot. "Yes," said the emperor, "that of Marengo, and I shall defeat the Russians as I defeated the Austrians." As the troops passed in review before him, he repeatedly exclaimed, “This is a lucky day the anniversary of Marengo." And so it turned out, for after three days' fighting, the Russians were completely defeated, and lost twenty-six thousand killed and wounded, to only eight thousand of the French. It was followed by the Treaty of Tilsit, the culminating point of Napoleon's career.
conscripts, of inferior physique and without much training. Marbot says of them: What a spectacle for the population, who assembled from long distances to look at the victors of Marengo, Austerlitz, and Friedland, and who saw these wretched conscripts, who could scarcely carry their haversacks and arms, who had more the appearance of invalids leaving the hospital, than an army marching to the conquest of a kingdom!... This sad spectacle gave to the Spaniards a very bad impres sion of our troops, and led to disastrous results. Napoleon despised too much the population of the Peninsula, and thought that it sufficed to show French troops to obtain all that he wanted from them. This was a grave error."
Marbot was at Madrid when the émeute took place against Godoy, the queen's favorite, and was the means of rescuing this personage from the fury of the mob. He tells again the miserable story of the perfidious action of Napoleon to the Spanish king and to the people of Spain, and the consequent general insurrection: "As a military man, it was my duty to fight the men who attacked the French army; but I could not but recognize in my inward heart that our cause was a bad one, and that the Spaniards had good reason to repel as enemies those who, having presented themselves as friends, desired to dethrone their sovereign, and to take possession of the kingdom by force; the war appeared to me to be iniquitous, but I was a soldier, and could not refuse to march without being taxed with cowardice. . . . The greater part of the army thought as I did, but obeyed all the same."
When Joseph Bonaparte was placed by his brother on his ephemeral throne in Spain, Murat succeeded him at Naples, and Marbot was taken by Marshal Lannes on his staff. "If you are not killed," the marshal said, "I will promote you rapidly." His duties as aide-de-camp in carrying despatches from one corps-d'armée to another, often alone, and sometimes on foot, across wide districts of country generally infested by guerillas, were among the most arduous and dangerous of any that he ever performed. Incidentally he mentions that between the years 1808 and 1814 more than two hundred staff officers were killed or taken prisoners by the Spaniards, while engaged in this task.
Marbot's next service was as aide-decamp to Murat in Spain in 1807. There is much in this part of his memoirs of great value. Spain was then in alliance with France. The French army was concen. After the victory of Lannes at Tudela, trated ostensibly for the invasion of Portu- he was sent with despatches to announce gal. The troops sent there, however, were it to Napoleon, then at Aranda; he was not the men who had fought with the em- attacked on the way by guerillas, severely peror in his famous campaigns, but fresh, wounded, and escaped again almost by a
miracle. He was obliged to return to headquarters. On his way, by the roadside he saw the dead body of a young French officer of the cavalry nailed to the wall of a building, with his head downwards, and a fire lighted beneath him; blood was still dripping from his body. Reaching headquarters with difficulty, he was unable on account of his wound to start again. His despatches were stained with his blood. The chief of the staff proposed to re-copy them. "No," said the marshal, "it is well that the emperor should see how valiantly Captain Marbot has defended them."
Scarcely recovered, he joined Lannes and the emperor himself in pursuit of Sir John Moore's force, and crossed the Douro. The march was a terrible one; all stragglers were cruelly treated and killed by the peasants. He states that three grenadiers of the Guard, finding themselves unable to continue the march, and unwilling to remain behind with the certainty of being tortured and massacred, blew their brains out with their muskets. Napoleon was greatly affected by these suicides, and, in spite of the mud and rain, visited successively all the buildings in which the soldiers had sought shelter for the night, and spoke to them, in the hope of raising their morale and infusing the old enthusiasm in them. The next day, on receipt of news from France, the emperor left the army and returned to Paris, leaving to Marshal Soult the task of pursuing the English army and of fighting the battle of Corunna.
Lannes separated at the same time from the army of Portugal, and was directed to Saragossa, where he took command of the troops, thirty thousand in number, engaged in the celebrated siege of that city. Marbot was ordered by the marshal to lead a storming party of eight companies of grenadiers, with the promise of promotion if successful, but, while reconnoitring the point where the assault was to be made, he was struck by a shot, and again most dangerously wounded. He recovered only in time to be present at the surrender of the city to Lannes.
Saragossa taken, Lannes returned to Paris, accompanied by Marbot. Within ten days of their arrival there they were again en route to join the emperor at Augsburg, in his new campaign against Austria. Marbot was soon again in the thick of the fray. He had another extraordinary escape at the battle of Eckmuhl. Lannes had ordered him to conduct a regiment of cuirassiers, which had been
misdirected by another aide-de-camp, to a point where it was to charge a regiment of Croats. In the charge which took place the Croats were annihilated, but Marbot's horse was killed under him, and he was dismounted. The cuirassiers, carrying their charge too far, were in their turn met by a regiment of Austrian lancers. who repulsed them, and they retreated at a gallop over the ground where Marbot lay, pursued by the Austrians. There was a distance of a few hundred feet only between the two corps, and if Marbot had been left behind, he would have been killed to a certainty. Two mounted cuirassiers gave him their hands, and thus, half lifted from the ground, he bounded along with them with tremendous strides, while they galloped at a fearful pace over the short distance which separated them from their own lines. "It was time for my gymnastic course," he says, "to end, for I was completely out of breath, and could not have continued. I learned then how inconvenient are the heavy long boots of the cuirassiers in time of war; for a young officer in the regiment, who, like me, had his horse killed under him, and was supported by two of his comrades on the return gallop in the same manner that I was, found himself unable to keep pace with the horses on account of his heavy boots; he was left behind, and was killed by an Austrian lancer, while I had escaped by reason of my light boots."
The next day it became absolutely necessary, for the safety of the army in its future proceedings, to take the town of Ratisbon at any cost. The emperor himself directed the proceedings and was wounded while so doing. The pain was great, though the wound was slight, but Napoleon was soon able to remount his horse and to ride along the lines of his army, while Lannes was making preparations for the assault of Ratisbon. When all was ready the emperor returned to his post overlooking the point of assault. A battery of guns had shattered the ramparts sufficiently to make a slope by which the assault could be made, but there remained a height of eight or ten feet of wall, against which it was necessary to place scaling. ladders. Lannes called for fifty volunteers to lead the assaulting body with ladders; the only difficulty was to select the number out of all who volunteered for the dangerous duty. On advancing to the breach they were all swept away by the enemy's fire. Another party of volunteers was called for, with the same result. When the call was made a third time,
there was no longer the same desire to volunteer for a duty which now appeared to lead to certain death. Though the emperor was looking on, and the whole army was present, no one volunteered. There was a mournful silence throughout the ranks. "The intrepid Lannes," says Marbot, "then exclaimed, I will show you that before being a marshal. I was a grenadier, and am so still.' He seized a ladder and was about to mount the breach. His aides-de-camp endeavored to prevent him, but he insisted upon going. I then took upon myself to say, Monsieur le Maréchal, you would not wish us to be dishonored; we should be so if you received the slightest wound in carrying a ladder to the rampart before every one of your aides-de-camp had been killed.' Then, in spite of his efforts, I snatched the ladder from him and placed it on my shoulder, while Vitry took the other end of it, and the other aides-de-camp by couples also took up ladders.
"At the sight of a marshal of France disputing with his aides-de-camp who should first mount the breach, a cry of enthusiasm arose from the whole division! Officers and soldiers all claimed the honor of mounting at the head of the assaulting column. They endeavored to push us aside, and to lay hold of the ladders; but in yielding we should have given the impression of having acted a little comedy for the purpose of rousing the élan of the troops. The marshal understood this, and though he feared that his staff would be exterminated in making so perilous an attack, he allowed us to proceed."
Marbot, having had most experience, organized and led the attack. By one of those strange accidents of war, while the first two assaulting parties had been destroyed before arriving at the wall, the third reached it without losing a single man. The wall was escaladed in the presence of the whole army, the assaulting column succeeded in forcing an entrance, and the town was carried with comparatively little loss. As a reward for this service the emperor promised to promote Marbot to the rank of major.
The next service which Marbot rendered to the emperor was, if possible, even more dangerous and critical, and one of which he was prouder than of any other, partly because it was voluntarily undertaken, whereas the others were by orders of his superior officers. A few days after the taking of Ratisbon, the French army was at Mölk, on the banks of the Danube. The town was dominated by a
great rock in the form of a promontory, on the summit of which was a Benedic tine convent of great wealth. The rooms of the monastery looked out on the Danube, and to a vast distance beyond. The emperor and many of his marshals, including Lannes, were lodged for the night in this monastery.
On the opposite bank of the Danube the camp fires of the Austrian army could be seen; but it was not known what the force consisted of. It was essential to Napoleon's further movements that he should know whether General Hiller's division was with the main army or not, and the only means of ascertaining this promptly was to send a trusted man across the river into the enemy's camp.
Marbot was sent for, and on the sugges tion, not the demand, of Napoleon himself, volunteered for the duty, involving almost certain death, of crossing the Danube by night in a boat, landing in the enemy's camp, kidnapping and carrying off two or three men from the Austrians. The Danube, being in flood, was three miles in width. The danger of the crossing was immensely increased by the heavy flood bringing down great quantities of trees recently felled in the adjoining mountains. A gale of wind was blowing, and torrents of rain were falling. The boatmen of the place refused to embark, insisting that to attempt the crossing was almost certain death. Napoleon then gave orders that six of them were to be compelled by force to take Marbot across the river, and soldiers were told off to see that they performed this duty. Marbot was conveyed across the river, landed with his soldiers on the opposite bank, escaped detection in the darkness from the Austrian guard, and succeeded in kidnapping three men, whom they brought across the river to Napoleon. When questioned by the emperor himself, it turned out that they belonged to General Hiller's corps, and thus the important question was solved.
The boatmen were rewarded by presents of twelve thousand francs each. The emperor also directed that the kidnapped men should be returned to the Austrian army with gifts of money to recompense them for their fright, saying that any one giving information to him, even involuntarily, ought to be rewarded.
The interesting events which followed in this campaign the occupation of the island of Lobau in the middle of the Danube, the crossing of the river, the battle of Essling, the breaking of the bridges by