The 1799 Campaign in Italy: the Summer Lull
Suvorov Returns and the “Battle against Nobody”
Fieldmarshal Suvorov moved back towards Alexandria on June 23, after having received, at Fiorenzuola d’Arda, the bad news about Bellegarde and, on the next day, reached Broni, then Voghera on June 25. Ponte Curone was reached on June 25, by the vanguard of Prince Bagration (only cavalry units: 4 cossacks pulky and 1 squadron; Karacsay Dragoons). The French outposts there (and those of Voghera) withdrew leaving the road to Alexandria open. During the night, a forced march led Suvorov to Castelnuovo di Scrivia, where he deployed his units. He had previously alerted Bellegarde in order to make an attack on the morning of 26 June -- if the French were at San Giuliano as thought. If not, Suvorov would have controlled of the area and if the French decided to retreat to the hills, he would pursue them with his light troops. This began a battle against ghosts!
The Russians deployed their vanguards, with Bagration on the left at Sale, linked to Shvejkowsky’s Division in Ponte Curone (and on the Voghera’s hills), and Förster’s Division on the right. Chubarov’s Avantgarde (Förster), which was the first unit to enter Tortona, on June 25, at 6 p.m., deployed four infantry battalions (2 battalions of Rozenberg’s Grenadiers and 2 Chubarov jäger battalions.); its cavalry (2 Karacsay squadrons. And one Cossack pulk) linked the flanks. Suvorov, who was at Castelnuovo recalled Bagration at 2 a.m. and ordered him to march towards Novi (who started at 3 a.m. from Castelnuovo). Bellegarde, who had sent the new the French were retreating into the hills, ordered Vukassovich and Alcaini (9 Battalions and 3 squadrons.) to seize San Giuliano and ordered Seckendorff to pursue the enemy with his 9 hussar squadrons. General Mittrowsky was left at Alexandria. At 7 a.m., Bellegarde’s Hauptkolonne camped on the banks of the Orba River at San Giuliano. The Cossacks, having connected the two Austro-Russian Corps, permitted Alcaini to reach the Tortona siege, freeing General Chubarov to engage himself in the pursue. The “Marengo battlefield” was definitively free from French and the “battle against nobody” ended.
On June 28, Suvorov set his main camp on the banks of the Orba creek, southeast from Alexandria, and put the coalition army’s HQ in a place called Bosco. The complaints of the “allied” Mélas had put the Coalition into some relationship troubles. Also the two Emperors had different ideas about the campaign and its future. So the Austro-Russians went into inactivity, limiting their units to the control of the French outposts (the extraordinary hot and sunny weather forced them to do so also) and waiting for some reinforcements to provide a solution to the long siege of Mantua.
June 1799 – Fear in Paris
The “Conseil législatifs” (legislative Council), dominated by Jacobins, was exasperated by the bad news continually coming from the armies. The Cinq-Cent Assembly required, on behalf of the Directors, a justification of their policy and several explanations on these military disasters. They reproached them for revoking Jacobin Generals, such as Jean Étienne Vachier also known as Championnet, and for supporting the Italian, Swiss, and German Jacobins enough.
They were accused of exiling Bonaparte to Egypt and thus depriviing the fatherland of the elite of his defenders. They wanted, said one, to have in Italy the Generals who were especially devoted to them, and it is by this reason that they deprived Bonaparte of the glory of defending and preserving his conquests. Why, one said, they removed the winner of Naples, Championnet, and the intrepide Joubert, who could preserve so well the laws of an austere discipline in his army, if not because these two Republican Generals openly disagreed against the detestable misappropriations of the directory agents?
The Directors being unaware of these requests, the Councils voted an act declaring illegal the election of Treilhard and replaced him, on June 17, 1799 (29 prairial), with Gohier, a former Jacobin deputy and minister under the National Convention.
The new Director, Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyès divided, in some ways, their feelings. He wanted to get rid of his most conservative colleagues and to modify the Constitution with the assistance, if needed, of Jacobin Generals. Strongly supported by public opinion, the opposition could decide without fear. Barras, Sieyes, Treilhard, Lareveillère, Lépaux and Merlin (of Douay) were then the members of the Directory, which France started to find was worst than the Committee of Public Safety, which it had succeeded. Smarter, but as guilty as their colleagues, Barras and Sieyes had, however, many partisans and still enjoyed some popular favour. Additionally, the opposition leaders, among which the Directors, had influential friends, directed all their attacks against the three weaker members: Lareveillère, Treilhard, and Merlin. It was a strong political attack which involved also the former War Minister and commander in Italy, Paul Scherer.
In the Council of Cinq-Cents, a representative, though moderate, count Antoine Boulay de la Meurthe, claimed the resignation of Louis-Marie de la Révellière-Lépeaux and Philippe Antoine Merlin de Douai. The Council of Older Citizens, the Directors Paul Barras and Emmanuel-Joseph Sieyés agreed with the Council of Cinq-Cents. Louis-Marie Révellière de Lépeaux and Philippe Antoine Merlin de Douai resisted, but General Barthélémy Catherine Joubert, who has been just named chief of the 17th Military Territorial Division (Paris), organized some troop movements in Paris. In the evening, Treilhard, Philippe Antoine Merlin of Douai and Louis Marie Larévellière Lépeaux ended up resigning. They were replaced with Paul Ducos, Gohier and General Moulins. The first act of the new Directory was to change the War Council and General Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was named the new War Minister. [i] Although nothing was illegal about these moves, the action of the Councils and the resignation of the two Directors was named the “Coup d'etat of 30 prairial”.
The Summer “Truce” and the Ligurian Border
After the Armée de Naples had taken its positions on the Appennines, Moreau reorganized the defences of the Ligurian borders, practically merging together the two armies. Macdonald was virtually removed from command, partially for his bad health (wounds), but, above all, for the new military trends coming from Paris. On June 24 General Gouvion St Cyr reached Genoa to take the place of General Grenier, who had to be sent in France to organize a new corps at the Piedmontese borders, and to reorganize the remnants of the Army of Naples. He had initially the command of the central division deployed from Ovada (in Piedmont) till la Bocchetta (he divided the defence into four groups – brigades – Colli, Seras, Quesnel and Laboissière).[ii] The command of the whole territorial division of Liguria, partially led by Lapoype, Claparede, and Dessolle, was given to the “old” senator Catherine-Dominique Pérignon (the future Maréchal), who was very busy keeping open the lines of communications with France and fighting against the local insurgents. So, Perignon, was sent, later, to Savona, with the responsibility of the left wing of the army, along with the Genoese territories.
The Left Wing’s Little War
On June 24, Laboissière’s Division, now under the orders of General Perignon, left the Bocchetta line and marched towards Savona,. The division deployed its troops:
The Swiss-German battalion (in Piedmont), called Legion piémontaise Brempt, at Montauriol, linked the unit with the Alpine garrison, still present in Piedmont. The unit was involved in surpressing an insurgency loyal to the royalists (Sardinian) in the Oneglia Valley (a former Sardinian territory). At the end of June (30), Perignon organized his HQ at Caporetto, while the Operative HQ (Laboissiere’s Division) was at Finale. The division was split into two brigades (Roguet’s and Pechaux, who was chef of the 41st demi-brigade). Roguet controlled the territory between Ormea and Pieve, while Pechaux was deployed from Zuccarello to Garessio. In July 1799, the second division of Perignon’s Corps (Lemoine’s) finally arrived, from Nice. It was deployed on the right wing with garrisons at Mallare, Altare, Cadibona, Montenotte, San Giacomo and had its HQ at Albissola. The depot battalion of the 26th Light Infantry Demi-Brigade was included in Laboissiére’s Division. With the arrival of General Lemoine, Laboissiére gave the command of his unit to General Grouchy, taking himself some units (i.e. 33rd Demi-brigade) for his new command (July 12).
Piedmont’s Garrisons : Mont Cenis (Pass)
Piedmont’s Garrisons : Coni (Cuneo)
Général-de-Brigade Antoine-Francois Brenier de Montmorand [vi] (Gen. Brenier or Brennier – former Chef of the 63rd Line demi-brigade)
The Right Wing Problem
The most difficult thing to do was to organized the defences of the Right Wing. Genoa, in effect, could be attacked either from the coastal territory, coming from Tuscany, in Lunigiana and at La Spezia, or from the lower passes on the Appennines (Cento Croci, Torriglia, Giovi and La Bocchetta). With Macdonald not available due to poor health and not considered reliable by the Directory, and having sent Grenier to Grenoble and Victor to Paris, there was no experienced general, who could have taken the command of a such vital defensive position. The final choice was General de Saint Cyr, former commander of the blocking defensive position at the Piedmontese borders (Ovada), who arrived at the Army of Italy on June 24.
Right Wing Commander from June 24, 1799 at Genoa
After the withdrawal of the Polish division from Fivizzano to the Ligurian Passes, the redeployment of the Victor’s and Montrichard’s troops, and the new deployment of Watrin’s Division, St Cyr blocked the coastal road with a group of units, which had retreated from the Tuscany under General Miollis.
Brigade de la Riviére de Levante – coming from Tuscany
Organization of the Ligurian Border
Moreau deployed his forces in 4 divisions and two special Corps (Ponente and Levante also known as the Left and Right Wings). The Left Wing of Perignon had Grouchy’s and Lemoine’s Divisions with a large mountainous territory to watch (from Ormea, through Garessio, Calissano, Bardinetto, Mallare, Altare and Dego near Cairo). It was a very weak deployment with many gaps and a dangerous point at the Tenda and Briga Passes, from where a resolute attacker could drive his army towards Nice, without finding any resistance. In the center of the Ligurian Appennines, the area between Sassello and Campo Freddo was controlled by a special unit of 7 battalions, cavalry and the Poles of Dąbrowski. Laboissière’s Division defended La Bocchetta Pass and the main road to Genoa, while Watrin’s Division deployed on the eastern Appennines (Torriglia, Cento Croci and Tarro). The two generals formed the Right Wing of St. Cyr together with the composite division of General Miollis, 7 battalions and 2 squadrons deployed in Lunigiana (Pontremoli), Fivizzano and on the river Magra banks until the Tyrrenian coasts. Moreau left the active campaign in the middle of July reaching the HQ (Army HQ) at Cornigliano near Genoa. Here he began to upgrade his army with the new soldiers, coming from France. His Chief-of-Staff was again General Dessolle, the commander of Genoa was Adjudant Claparede[xii], the army artillery commander remained Debelle (who repaired 8 batteries), the cavalry commander was Grouchy. The HQ of the Army of Naples remained virtually at Albaro, where Macdonald was recovering from his wounds. The recent defeats had claimed some “heads” from Paris; so Generals Montrichard and Lapoype lost their ranks, without being really guilty of anything.
In July, three important events disturbed the unofficial truce between the opposing sides:
Reinforcing Moreau’s army
After the dissolution of the Serurier’s Division during the Adda battles, General Moreau had continually asked Paris to send reinforcements. The first attempt was done with Xaintrailles’ Division, from the Helvetian Army. A total of six demi-brigades and three cavalry regiments were detached from Masséna’s Army and sent to Moreau in Piedmont. They marched in three columns, each two days behind the previous one, the first of which reached Lausanne on May 12. There the commander had the order to fight the Canton Valaise’s insurgency and then to pass the Simplon, linking with Moreau at Novara or Turin; but they never left Switzerland.
On June 4, the Directoire signed a “decret” that organize the garrison batallions and ordered that each demi-brigade had to be formed by three active battalions “de guerre” with a 4th as depot. During the summer many demi-brigades were reorganized returning to their authorized strength (i.e. the return from Rome of the Third Battalion of the 62e Demi-Brigade brought back the unit to a force of 81 Officers and 3888 troops; while not all were armed.) This Act gave new soldiers to the Army of Italy, but the number of deserters remained relatively high. The conscripts were sent to the garrison units, moving from them the veterans fit to fight. Some corps were organized also with the personnel of the depot battalions (the 4th battalions), such as the Alps Corps. In Italy, however, there remained difficulties in supplying and paying the soldiers, sometimes they lacked muskets for the fusiliers companies.
So Moreau, in spite of the Directory’s guarantees, received only the Lemoine’s Division as a reinforcement and, before having definitively resolved the problem of co-commanding with Macdonald, he found himself relieved of the command and transferred to the Rhine. He saw the new Army’s Staff arriving, one by one, along the Nice road.
The Auxiliary Battalions
After the Act of September 24, 1798, the Directory had obtained the authorization for a Levée en Masse of about 200,000 men. However this never occured. When the 1799 defeats weakened the Army the Directory encountered several difficulties; simply it was too late to activate a new Levée and it was difficult to send enough reinforcements to the national border, to replace the substantial the losses of the Armée d’Italie. A Law of July 2, 1799, advised the constitution of auxiliary battalions. Each department gave two battalions and the officers were taken from the pool of the retired ones. Eight of these battalions formed the first contingent to reinforce the Armée d’Italie. They had to be divided among the corps which had suffered the major losses. Initially they were 10,250 men regularly armed, with clothes and equipments. For example, the first bataillon de l’Aude departed from Carcassonne, with 1600 men, but arrived with 68 men, only the officers! Of the 10,250 men enrolled only 310 passed the Var Creek (the border with the Genoese Republic), so they had 9940 deserters, who took with them their weapons and baggage. This fact gave the sad impression of what the national “elan” was in France at the time, till Bonaparte’s return. TheAude’s battalion (68 men!!) was merged with the 33rd Demi-brigade, a unit which had lost 3000 men during the campaign. General Roguet wrote many letters to the depot of Aude (X Division Territorial) for supplies and material, trying also to have other conscripts in the place of the 1500 deserters.
This was the text of the Act (July 2,1799) as written by a member of the “Council of the Older Citizens”, Lavaux, regarding the new conscripts’ battalions (which indirectly were also the strongly needed – by Moreau – reinforcements):
The Alps Corps (also Called the Armée des Alpes)
In order to defend Dauphiné and Savoy, and to reinforce, according to the circumstances, the Armies of Italy and the Danube, the Directory had believed suitable to organize a reserve, with the name of the Army of the Alps. General Championnet, even more directly in trouble than Joubert, with some persecutions of the former Directors, after having been transferred before a military commission, was selected to organize this new army. He accepted the order for that the place and the new formation was to be created in Grenoble. The manpower of the force was originally thought to be 50,000 men.
By August 1, the French Armies, in spite of the activity and the care of Minister Bernadotte, had hardly received a third of their needed reinforcements, and it was still with the disadvantage of the number which the French had to start again the campaign. There was a sort of armistice, which seemed to be spontaneously adopted by all the belligerent powers, towards the end of June and during almost the whole of July. Whatever were the causes which urged the Allied powers to lose their initiative with the French army at bay, they were reinforcing the fronts with new armies. The possibility (having invaded Piedmont and Switzerland) of penetrating France urged a reorganization of the Coalition armies; Austrians in Italy and on the Rhine, Russians in Switzerland and British in Holland. However the main causes of that loss of precious time were political affairs. In France the political struggle in Paris had paralyzed the War Council, in the Coalition the trial of wills between the Emperors Paul I and Franz II had stopped the Archduke Charles and Suvorov from moving forward.
The new Alps Army (or Corps des Alpes) was officially created on July 5, 1799 (17 messidor) and was partially operative by July 21, (3 thermidor) as a separate part of the armée d’Italie. It was formed “On délibère sur la direction des forces de terre”which stated the organization of a new army on the French alpine borders “sous le nom d'armée des Alpes”. [xiv] Its strength should have been of about 35,000 men, but it never achieved a number more than 16,000, poorly armed and trained, without artillery and cavalry. The first commander, General Paul Grenier, with his personal Chief-of-Staff, Dominique Compans, who became a brigadier on the battlefield on May 23, reached Grenoble from the Liguria, to help organize the alpine defenses. Grenier had the command of territorial Military Divisions 7 (Grenoble) and 8 (Marseille); then has also the command of the former Savoy’s provinces of Maurienne and Tarentaise. They began to organize the new formations, collecting units from the Reserve and also formed the new brigades with all what they could find.
The most important political event had come from Paris, on June 11, with the “Coup d'etat of 30 prairial”. General Bernadotte, the armed hand of the “new” Directory (after the “golpe”), having made plans of great victories in Italy, charged with that task, General Joubert, the hero of Tirol, again named commander of the Armée d’Italie. [xv]
Moreau was sent to Germany, while General Championnet arrived at Grenoble and presented himself as the new commander of the armée des Alpes, extending his command to territorial Military Divisions 7 (Grenoble), 8 (Marseille), and 19 (Lyon). He then began to organize his General Staff, maintaining Grenier as Chief-of-Staff. On August 13, the unit was declared ready to fight, and Championnet moved his troops forward across the mountains which he had to defend. The so called armée des Alpes was split in two divisions (8000 men each). But really the divisions (columns) were at least four: one for each of the main passages through the Alps. They moved on August 17, too late to change the events at Novi.
Armée des Alpes – Comm. in Chief General Jean Étienne Vachier, called Championnet [xvi]
On 31 August (14 fructidor), at 11 hours p.m., in Embrun, Championnet received the Directory’s Order of 12 fructidor (29 August) imposing the disbanding of the armée des Alpes and its merging with the armée d’Italie, to be under his command. On 1 September (15 fructidor) the order was applied with the disbanding of the general staff and the reassignment of the command to General Paul Grenier, who became the commander of the Left Wing of armée d’Italie, the new name of the armée des Alpes. On October 4 (12 Vendemiaire), Championnet reached Genoa and replaced Joubert, who was killed at Novi.
[i] General Jean Baptiste Bernadotte was born on Jan. 26, 1763, at Pau, France. He joined the army in 1780 being a sergeant when the French Revolution began. Embracing the Revolutionary ideals, he rose rapidly in the ranks of the republican army. By 1794 he was a General-de-brigade having served with the armies of the Meuse and the Rhine.
In 1798 Bernadotte served briefly as French ambassador in Vienna. Returning to Paris in the summer of that year, he married Désirée Clary. During 1799 Bernadotte was also minister of war for a short period, after the 30 prairial Coup d’Etat, and he had become an influential political General by the time of Napoleon's return from Egypt in 1799. He did not, however, take part in the coup d'etat of Brumaire (November 1799), which established the Consulate under Napoleon. During the 4 years of the Consulate he commanded first the Army of the Vendée and then the troops at Hanover.
The creation of the empire in 1804 brought Bernadotte the title of marshal. He played an active role in the campaign against Austria in 1805 and fought at Austerlitz. In return for his services to France, and because of his relation to the Emperor, he was given the principality of Pontecorvo in June 1806. He took part in the Prussian campaign of 1806, but during the Battle of Jena (October 14) he refused to support Marshal Louis Davout, who was thus forced to engage the major portion of the Prussian army with only one army corps. Although he remained popular with his troops, Bernadotte was denounced by Napoleon and criticized by his fellow marshals for this action. In 1808, as governor of northern Germany, Bernadotte came in contact with Swedish troops, who were impressed by his generous conduct. The 1809 campaign against Austria found him once again at the head of an army corps, but the battle of Wagram marked the end of his military career with the French army. When the German troops under his command fled to the rear at the height of the battle, Bernadotte rode after them in a vain attempt to rally them. While riding full gallop to the rear, he met Napoleon advancing with reinforcements. The Emperor would listen to no explanation; he relieved the marshal of his command and ordered him off the battlefield.
Bernadotte returned to Paris in undeserved disgrace but was soon given command of the defense of the Netherlands. Then, in 1810, as he was about to take up his new post as governor of Rome, the Swedish government asked him to become crown prince of Sweden. After securing the approval of Napoleon and becoming a member of the Lutheran Church, Bernadotte was elected on Aug. 20, 1810, to succeed the aging and ailing Swedish king, Charles XIII. When he arrived in Stockholm in November, he was adopted by the king and took the name Charles John. The occupation by French troops of Swedish Pomerania in 1812 and the ruinous Continental blockade resulted in a formal split with Napoleon, and in 1813 the crown prince took his adopted nation into the camp of the Allies.
Charles John led a Swedish army against France in the final years of the Napoleonic Wars, and after Napoleon's defeat Sweden was allowed to annex Norway, which had been part of the Danish kingdom. In 1818, when Charles XIII died, the crown prince ascended the throne. On March 8, 1844, he died at Stockholm.
[ii] Some sources refer also General Gardanne as a brigade commander of the former Grenier division. It was a fault inherited from the Jomini’s jobs: Gardanne was blocked into Alexandria.
[iii] Catherine-Dominique marquis de Pérignon, Born on May 31, 1754 (Grenade-sur-Garonne) – dead on Decembre 25, 1818 (Paris), Maréchal d'Empire (1804). He was soon 1st Lieutenant in the Royal grenadiers in Guyenne and, in 1780, est aide de camp of Earl of Preissac. The Ségur reformation, leaving poor possibilities to the lesser nobility in order to have a military career, determined his return to the civil life. Elected as representative of the Haute-Garonne for the Assemblée législative in 1791, he reached Paris. Perignon, at that time 37 years old, already officer of the grenadiers, now judge, again choose to get the Army as infantry lieutenant-colonel in the armée des Pyrénées-Orientales. From July 17, 1793, (combats at Thuir and Mas-de-Serre) he quickly got the ranks of Colonel and général de brigade, in september. Two months later he was also Général de division, with which rank he signed the defence of Perpignan. In 1794 he fought at La Junquera (June 7), at la Montagne-Noire (November 17-20, 1794), where died the renowned General Dugommier. This determined his raising to the rank of provisional Army commander winning many battles until the peace with Spain. He was also the French Ambassador at Madrid.
Called in Paris, by the Directory in 1797, for a strange history of friendness with a royalist spy, he was forced to retire. In 1799 he was recalled on duty receiving the command of the Ligurian military territory, previously led by General Dessolle. With the Moreau retreat to Genoa, Perignon was charged of the control of the line of communications with France, receiving the command of the Right Wing of the Army of Italy (since the army was deployed with the center on the Appennines, the coastal territory was at its right). At Novi, however he led the Left Wing of the Army (div. Grouchy and Lemoine) controlling the valleys of Tanaro and Bormida rivers. He defended the village of Pasturana where he was taken prisoner (August 15, 1799). The Russian released him only in 1801, 47 years old, and Napoleon named him vice-president of the French Senate.
At Paris he had the task to refine the old Treaty with Spain and to correct the borders on the Pyrenéees. When Napoleon decided to became an Emperor and when the new leader decided to create 14 Maréchaux de France, Perignon, with other three Senators, received the Marshal’s Staff too. The Senator Marshal was then Governor at Parma and Piacenza (1806) and in 1808 was again in the army, having received the order to take the command of the Neapolitan Kingdom troops, in the place of Jourdan. He left Naples only when the King declared himself not still allied with France. During the absence of Murat, Perignon commanded the French army, but left him when Murat became to manifest the will to separe from Paris (1813). With the First Restoration, he gave his sword to the King, being awarded for this. He also tried to organize some resistance to the Emperor’s return, which caused his radiation from the Marshals ranks. On January 10, 1816, the King reintegrated him as Marshal and made Perignon (already Count from 1808) commander of St.Louis Order, military Governor at Paris, Marquis, in 1817. He died on the Christams Day of 1818, at Paris, after having voted the condemn to death for Ney, and was buried with the National Honours.
[iv] Chef-de-brigade François Roguet, Count. He was born at Toulouse on Novembre 12, 1770, entered the service being 19 y.o. (May 3, 1789) in the Guyenne regiment (after the 21st infantry) and fought the 1792 campaign with the armée du Var, as « adjudant » in the 1st battalion of the Haute-Garonne. He distinguished himself during the Nice affair and in other combats, receiving, in 1793, the rank of « adjudant-major capitaine ». With this rank he entered the 21e Demi-Brigade de ligne, where he was charged, as adjudant-major, of the teaching of discipline and instruction. On June 1795 he received a severe wound at Savona, jumping over the fortress ditch, under the Austrian firevolleys. In 1796 the 21st, 118th and 129th demi-brigades merged themselves into the new « immortale » 32nd demi-brigade, the diamond of General Masséna. L’adjudant-major Roguet maintained his rank and had also the promotion to chef-de-battaillon after Arcole battle. Lacking many fit officers, he was transferred to the 33rd demi-brigade, where he led the 1st battalion at Rivoli. In 1799, the armée d’Italie rioted, refusing to follow the General in chief of that time. Only the commander Roguet, with his battalion, remained on duty at Mantua, occupying the assigned positions. During the Verona battles the chef Roguet, under General Moreau’s orders, marched against St. Lucia village, a very important position, freeing it from the Austrian detachment ; he fortified his battalion into the village and resisted to the counterattacks, but he was wounded by a shot in the leg. After a long rest period he reached the army in Piedmont and, after, in Liguria. There he was charged with the command of a composite task force, formed by rests of infantry units and various detachments, and sent in mission to control the insurgencies of the Oneglia and Tanaro valleys. He doomed the rioters and seized the important town of Oneglia, broke the Pieve siege taking all Insurgents artillery with their Staff and retablished the line of communications with Genoa and the France. Recalled by Moreau at Ceva, on June 11, he was named chef de brigade « sur le champ de bataille », taking the command of the 33rd infantry and the complete command of the Ligurian Ponente (western Liguria). He fought then at Fossano, Novi and Coni (Cuneo) with his unit reduced, by July 1800, from 3000 to 160 survivors. At that time he was ordered to reach Paris. In 1803 he was named général de brigade, commanding the 69th and 76th infantry regiments at the Boulogne camp. In 1805 he marched towards Germany fighting the Elchingen battle, capturing the Scharnitz fortress and pursuing th enemy until Innsbuck. In 1806 he was at Jena, at the Magdeburg blockade, at Soldau and (1807) at the Eylau battle, where, on June 5, being in the rearguard towards the Russian center (Russian Guard), he resisted at the intense bombardment until his horse fell dead and he had a ball in the foot. Wounded, he remained on the battlefield and was taken prisoners by the Russian (the First Surgeon of the Czar Alexander sewed his wound). After Tilsit he returmed in France, still suffering of his wound, and commanded the Paris garrison. There he was named Baron and Chevalier of the Iron Crown (Italy’s award). For a short periodo he was ta the Cadsan island, where organized the defences. In 1808 he was sent in Spain. There he distinguished himself at the sieges of Bilbao and Santander, being named Colonel of the 2nd Chasseurs à pied of the Imperial Guard. With the Guard he was at Aspern-Essling and at Wagram. Returned in Spain, Roguet fought the 1809, 1810 and 1811 campaigns with the tirailleurs and voltigeurs de la garde, reorganized again. He had the promotion to général de division on June 24, 1811 and was the commander of the 6e Gouvernement d’Espagne. In 1812 he lived the russian tragical days. Arrived on July 4, 1812, at Wilna and then he was the first to march into Moscow. During the retreat, Roguet, covered the Gurad columns with a detachment, opened a gap into the Miloradovich ranks at Smolensk (December 14) and stood at Krasnoje, defending the town and allowing the Prince Eugene to join the main body of the Army. Durings this last combat the Roguet’s division had 1500 men dead. He continued the retreat rallying the Guard units and fought at Lutzen, Bautzen and Wurchen, receiving the great Cross of the Orders of Réunion and that of Hesse for his behaviour. He fought also at Dresden, leading 14 battalions of conscripts, with excellent results. After Leipzig, always retreating, Roguet formed the rearguard, taking part at the Hanau battle.
On Novembre 28, 1813, he was named Count of the Empire and took the command of the Guard at Bruxelles. After the battle of Courtrai and after the abdication of the Emperor he went to Lille, joining the new authorities and gaining also the St. Louis Cross. At this point he was called to maintain his Guard rank (now Royal Guard), giving the whole Corps to the returned Emperor in 1815. After the Fleurus and Waterloo battles he signed a protest-letter with other 18 officers, against the Bourbon behaviour. For this he was forced to retire. 15 years after he was recalled to command the 1st infantry division by the Revolutionary Government of 1830. Then had the leadership of the 7th Territorial division and the great Cross of the Légion-d’Honneur in 1831. He ended his military career with an unpleasant episode in Lyon, when he dispersed a workers riot with the musketry. Roguet died at Paris, 75 years old, on December 7, 1846.
[v] Exactly! He was a true Catholic priest, a great protester against the richness of the nobility. So not all the priest were “refractaires” or anti-jacobins (as many of the Piedmontese insurgency chiefs); some of them had been caught by the revolutionary ideas and fought better than the “official Pope’s Army” did. The chef of the Ligurian Western National Guard grenadiers was a friar (Cappuccino) father Marcantonio di Ranso.
[vi] Général-de-Brigade Antoine-Francois Brenier de Montmorand, Wounded 4 April 1799 and 17 April 1799. Born: 12 November 1767. Chef-de-Brigade : 1 September 1795 (14e Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie de Ligne) . Chef-de-Brigade : 1 January 1797 (63e Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie de Ligne) . General-de-Brigade: 15 June 1799 . General-de-Division: 26 March 1811 . Grand Officer of the Legion d'Honneur: 18 December 1813 . Baron of the Empire: 12 February 1812 . Died: 8 October 1832
[vii] Général de division Louis Lemoine. Born on November 23, 1764 (not 1754) at Saumur (Maine-et-Loire) and dead on January 23, 1842 at Paris. Louis Lemoine engaged himself on March 13, 1782, in the regiment of Brie. Left the duty as Caporal in 1791, before to enroll in the 1st battalion volunteers de Mayenne-et-Loire, (the old name for the department of Maine-et-Loire, on March 30, 1791). He became lieutenant, then captain and 2nd lieutenant-colonel in his battalion, on September 1791. The battalion, sent to Verdun, arrived only by June 2,1792, having deserted a quarter of the strength. When the chef Beaurepaire died (or was killed by friend fire – somebody told of a suicide) Lemoine became (September 2, 1792), « lieutenant-colonel en chef du bataillon". He was in the army of Champagne and then in that of the Belgium during the period 1792-93. Lemoine was named général de brigade of the armée des Alpes, on September 1, 1793, and then was with the armée des Pyrénées orientales, where he eas confirmed brigadier on January 19, 1794 in the Augereau division. He distinguished himself during the capture of Bezalu and was wounded in the Saint-Laurent de la Mouga fight on August 13, 1794. After a 4 month period to recover from the wound, he was transferred to the armée de Côtes de Brest. He took part in the clash around the fort Penthièvre, in the Quiberon peninsula, (July 1795). On January 1, 1796 he was promoted to général de division at Cherbourg. Under Hoche he took part in the Irish Expedition and, in 1797, was with the Sambre-et-Meuse army, fighting at Neuwied. For a short period he replaced Augereau, commanding the Paris 17e division militaire, and then was in the armée d’Angleterre and, finally (April 16, 1798) in the Army of Italy. In Italy he was charged of the command of the 2nd division of the Rome’s army, beating the Neapolitans at Terni and at Bosco di Popolo. With the Neapolitan capitulation he returned in Paris (January 11, 1799) but in April he was recalled on active duty and reached the front, for a short time, and Nice, where he organized the reinforcements. He came in Liguria with a new division on July 1799, fought the Novi battle under Perignon and, in autumn, he fought at Genola, Mondovì, Garessio and Ormea under Championnet. In that period he criticized the 18 Brumaire event, so he was forced to retire on September 11, 1800. Recalled in 1808 he was place commander at Wesel and remained there until 1813, after a short period at Bolzano, during the 1809 insurgency. On July 7, 1813 he led a division of the 2nd Corps (the 6e bis division) reaching Minden and, then, Magdeburg, where he remained. During the 100 days he led the 3rd Observation Corps. Was allowed to retire on December 16, 1816 and had the commander rank of the Légion d'honneur in 1831.
[viii] Chef-de-Brigade Jean-Antoine Dejean, Born: 25 November 1765. Chef-de-Brigade : 14 August 1793 (13e Demi-Brigade de Bataille ). Chef-de-Brigade : 19 May 1796 (11e Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie). Chef-de-Brigade : 11 July 1798 (80e Demi-Brigade d'Infanterie). General-de-Brigade : 19 October 1804. Died: 6 November 1848
[ix] Antoine-Alexandre Rousseau (or Rousseaux), born on September 17, 1756 ; entered the service on October 1, 1775; sergeant on July 17, 1779; sergeant-major on October 19, 1783 ; adjutant on May 10, 1789 ; 1st-lieutenant on October 29, 1790, lieutenant on December 16, 1790; captain on February 25, 1792; Adjudant-général chef-de-brigade on March 21, 1794 chef-de-brigade on June 7, 1795 , confirmed on May 18, 1796 (commander of the 185e Demi-Brigade ?). He was wounded on October 12, 1796. Under the Empire he was General-de-Brigade on August 29, 1803; General-de-Division on August 6, 1811; Commander of the Legion d'Honneur on June10, 1804. He died on April15, 1827.
[x] Marquis Laurent Gouvion de St. Cyr. Future maréchal de France, born at Toul (Meurthe), on April 13, 1764, in a family in poor conditions. Volunteer in 1789, he had a fast military progression :Adjudant-général in 1793, in the armée de Moselle, after some months he became général de brigade, and général de division in the armée des Alpes, on June 16, 1794. During the Mainz siege he led the center attack and distinguished himself. He was under Masséna, in the 1798 campaign, but was dismissed by the Directory for having written about plunders made by some “représentants du peuple”. He was soon recalled on duty and, in 1799, sent to Genoa in order to take the place of General Macdonald, wounded and distrusted. At Novi he led the right wing, beating the enemy at Pasturana during the moments in which he had to cover the French retreat. On November 6, 1799, he was attacked in front of the Coni fortress, by overwhelming enemies, but he defended the positions vigorously. Championnet also gave him the command of the right wing with the task to delay the enemy advance onto Genoa. He succeded in his mission performing a remarkable withdrawal to the Var lines. For this action, the First Consul rewarded him the an Honour Sabre. In 1800 he had the provisional command of the Moreau army, occupied Freiburg and cooperated till the battle of Hohenlinden. The following year he was at the command of the armée de Portugal, then ambassadeur in Spain after the Badajoz treaty.
[xi] Francois Alexandre Sextius de Miollis (Born atAix [en-Provence] September 18, 1759 – dead on June 18, 1828). He was also an hero of the American War of Independance, fighting under Rochambeau at Yorktown (where he was wounded), as 2nd Lieutenant of the Soissons regiment. In 1792 he participated to the capture of the Ville Franche Citadel near Nice, being lieutenant colonel of the 3rd volunteers battalion of the Bouches-du-Rhône. In 1794 he became provisional General brigadier (Feb 25), confirmed on June 13, 1795. With the army of Italy he fought at Finale (1795). In 1796 he led the 1st brigade of the 4th infantry division (II Corps de bataille) and took part at the Mantua siege, fighting in the fort San Giorgio assault of January 1797. He beloved Mantua, of which he was also Governor from 1797 to 1798, and where he ordere to erect a monumento for the roman poet Vergilius. In 1799 he was also governor at Livorno (Leghorn) and provisional division General (July 6), fighting under St. Cyr at Recco and in the Riviera (Rapallo in October). In October (14) he was confirmed Général de Division. As the commander of the 5th division of the Armée d’Italie he was also blocked in Genoa (1800); then passed to the command of Tuscany division (a Kingdom of Italy unit) till 1801. In 1802 some disagreements with Napoleon caused his retirement. Recalled by August 28, 1805 he returned as Mantua Governor and commander of the French forces in Italy, under Prince Eugène de Beauharnais. In December Miollis occupied Venice. On June 1807 he had the Cross of the Iron Crown, always leading his division he reached Rome, becaming Governor of the Pope’s capital city. Grand Officier de la Légion d'honneur and Empire Count in 1808, on July 6 he ordered the arrest of the Pope Pious VII. From 1810 till 1813 he was the Roman Province Commissary and then the commander of th 30th division (Rome). On March 10, 1814, following the agreements between Murat and Fouché, he left Rome. King Louis XVIII ordered him to command the military district of the Bouche-du-Rhône and Vaucluse. There he was under General Masséna, who sent Miollis to try to block Napoleon disembarkment on the Golf Juan beach (March 7, 1815). However the Emperor had been faster than him and Miollis was sent to Metz, as city governor. With the return of the King he retired definitively, living the last years between Paris, Isle-Adam, Villefranche, and Aix. He had a very strange (stupid) death, because he bote his head on a table marble chine during an accidental fall.
[xii] Adjudant à l’Etat Major Michel Marie Claparede, [Born 28.8.1770, Gignac, (Herault) – dead 23.10.1843, Montpellier (Herault)], was a renowned divisional General (from 8.10.1808). He joined the service on February 1, 1793 as the soldier in 4th battalion of volunteers of Herault department and, after only 4 days was selected as captain for his particular skills. From March 1793 its battalion was in the Coastal Army and in that of Brest. In November 22,1793 he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and became the commander of the volunteers battalion, reverting to captain in March 1794. In 1794-95 he fought in the Cherbourg Army, and, from January 1796, in the army of the Ocean’s Coasts. On July 25, 1796 he was transferred with his battalion in the ranks of the 23rd line demi-brigade. In 1798 he was within the army of Italy, being after transferred, on May 10, 1799, to the Joint Staff at Genoa, receiving the charge of Place commander. On August 22 he returned to be a simple battalion commander of the 23rd line demi-brigade, participating to the Germany campaign: at the Rhine army, Messkirch, Biberach, and Hohenlinden.
[xiii] Général Charles Antoine Dominique Xaintrailles, comte de Lauthier. German, he was born in Wesel on January 17, 1763 (died at Paris on May 13, 1833) and arrived to the General of division rank in 1796 (May 30). From April 30, 1799, he was named commander of the 1st division of the Armée d’Helvetie. On June 25, 1799, after having fought a mountain war against insurgents he was charged with the accuse of undue exactions for his personal profit. He was, then, imprisoned and sent to trial at the War Council. On April 28, 1801 he was completely acquitted, returning on service.
[xiv] The early organizer was the General Paul Grenier, come from Genoa, but soon the new army was put under General Championnet as “général en chef sous les ordres du général en chef des armées d'Italie et des Alpes”. A first annotation (in the archives Françaises as an excerpt of the “registre des délibérations” and signed by Sieyès, president, and Lagarde, chief of General secretary, brought the name of “corps d'armée des Alpes”, a name which was corrected the day after, by a letter of Bernadotte (annotation dated 17). The Lagarde annotation, signed by the five Directors, created also a new armée du Rhin, on the river front between Neuf-Brisach till Düsseldorf, naming Moreau commander in chief, replaced at the army of Italy by Joubert. An “arrêté à annuler “ of day 19, named Lefebvre as provisional commander of the Rhine army. (AF III 613, plaquettes 4299, pièces 43-49, et 4300, pièces 54-60).
[xv] General Macdonald obtained a provisional “Leave” letter in order to “recover his health”.
[xvi] General Jean Étienne Vachier, called Championnet (Born at Valence 1762- Antibes 1800), French General, enlisted in the army at an early age and served in the great siege of Gibraltar. Returned in France from Spain, in 1791, he was elected Chief of the 6th battalion de la Drôme and charged to control the Girondists revolt in the Jura. Under Pichegru he took part in the Rhine campaign of that year as a brigade commander, and at Weissenburg and in the Palatinate won the warm commendation of Lazare Hoche. Then was at the armée de Sambre-et-Meuse with the rank of général de division.At Fleurus, he repulsed the cavalry of Kaunitz.
In the subsequent campaigns he commanded the left wing of the French armies on the Rhine between Neuwied and Düsseldorf, and took a great part in all the successful and unsuccessful expeditions to the Lahn and the Main. Named commander of a northern Corps he bote, in 1798, the British at Blakenberg, hindering the Ostende bombardment. In 1798 Championnet was named commander-in-chief of the "army of Rome" which was protecting the infant Roman republic against the Neapolitan court and the British fleet. Nominally 32,000 strong, the army scarcely numbered 8000 effectives, with a bare fifteen cartridges per man. The Austrian General Mack had a tenfold superiority in numbers, but Championnet so well held his own that he ended by capturing Naples itself and there setting up the Parthenopean Republic. Soon afterwards, Championnet fell into disgrace with the Directory, and, accused, the General in chief was translated in front of a council of war, then transferred to Grenoble, where he was imprisoned until the time of the “golpe” of 30 prairial. The new Directors sent him to command the new army of the Alps. Charged to replace Joubert, after the disastrous battle of Novi, he was in Genoa and soon was driven back in a difficult position, without ammunition, without money, with many enemy opposite to him. Fortunately the return of Bonaparte revitalized his courage.He sent the self resignation letter to the Directory, where he stated the young corsican General as the only man who could save Italy. After the 18 brumaire, Championnet, whose heart had broken by pain and by shame, required and obtained his retirement. Withdrawn in Antibes, he died there on January 10, 1800.
François Müller (1754-1808),
was général de division and commander of the 7th
Territorial unit of Grenoble. He went into exile at Orléans,
after the Moreau’s trial.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: September 2008
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