Military Subjects: Organization, Strategy & Tactics


HISTORY

ANECDOTAL, POLITICAL AND MILITARY

 

of the

IMPERIAL GUARD.

by

 

EMILE MARCO DE SAINT-HILAIRE;

Translated by: Greg Gorsuch

Illustrated with sixty splendid drawings and costumes, colored and drawn in part, and of a great number of scenes in the text.

IT WAS A GRANITE COLUMN:

(Words of the First Consul in his report
on the battle of Marengo to the government,
27 Prairial year VII.)

 

The famous military units, from time immemorial, provide the most interesting and dramatic parts of the histories of nations.  The writings of antiquity hold wide compassion those from Greece on the Macedonian phalanxes, those of Rome on the troops of the Praetorian Guard.

Not less intrepid than the Roman legions, the heroic soldiers of our Imperial Guard have, like these turbulent Praetorian of the Caesars’ Rome, devoured the fatherland in their insatiable avarice.  Far from there, their heads furrowed by the fire of the grapeshot, emblazoned by the iron of the enemy, were curved readily under the yoke of an austere discipline.  Their Emperor falls, and these brave men attend the funeral of their strength without uttering any complaint.  Asked for their weapons:  they return their weapons, but with French hands.  One repudiates them:  they disperse.

The History of the Imperial Guard will include this period, so rich in military events, which starts in 1800 and finishes in 1815; that is from its formation, under the title of Consular Guard, until its dismissal as the Imperial Guard

In a fast, but exact and complete outline, the author of this history, Mr. Emile Marco de Saint-Hilaire, starts by putting under the eyes of the reader a faithful painting of the character, manners and practices of the soldiers of the guard.  He passes then onto the origin and the formation of this elite troop, by indicating its mode of recruitment and advancement; its internal administration; its privileges and its attributions near the person of the Emperor; its pay and its allowances, on a war footing and on a peace footing, its discipline and its quartering; its numerical and successive force through the various phases of the Empire, by distinct arms.  Then, to speak with the eyes at the same time as with the spirit, he formulated synoptic and partial tables in which the names of all the officers of each regiment of the guard are registered, with the indication of their rank and their row of seniority, from the colonel to the last lieutenant.  Moreover, he reproduced the text of the decrees, the ordinances and the notifications of command; the model of the brevet nominations it used, decorations and equipments; the copy of the titles of nobility, as well as that of the orders-of-the-day relating to the guard.  Under this report, the book that we publish is, with time, a patriotic memorial for the country, and for the brave men whose name appears there, as a family distinction.

The author follows these interesting documents, drawn from authentic and official sources, a historical summary of the campaigns in which, the corps of the Young and Old Guard took an active role, and he finished this summary by the biography of all the heads of corps, such as Marshals Bessières, Davoust, Mortier and Soult, those of the Colonel-Generals of the Guard; Bertrand, Junot, Gourgaud, Hogendorp, Lauriston, Mouton, Rapp, Savary, etc., Aide-de-Camps of the Emperor; those of the colonel-commanders, such as:  Berthezène, Cambronne, Dorsenne, Friant, Large, Hulin, Ornano, Pelet, Soulès, etc., for the infantry;  Arrighi, Eugene Beauharnais, Colbert, Dalmann, Daumesnil, Jermanowski, Lefebvre-Desnouettes, Lepic, Saint-Sulpice, Walther, etc., for the cavalry;  of Aboville, Anthouard, Drouot, Lariboissière, Sorbier, etc., for artillery;  Bernard, Dejean, Haxo, Kirgener, etc., for the engineer arms;  of Bast, Daugier, Rigny, Gantaume, Linois, etc., for the marins.  It mentioned for their devotion:  Emery, Foureau de Beauregard, Cadet-Cassicourt, Larrey, Sue, etc., and as the administration of the Guard, where the names of Daru, Dennier, Joinville, etc., testify these men of intelligence, that the worry of the battle field did not influence of any of the cabinet work.

It is useless to add that the author reported, with a religious care, the feats of arms, the brilliant deeds, the features of devotion and intrepidity courage, presence of mind most remarkable of the officers, warrant officers and soldiers of the Imperial Guard.  Lastly, it gives the names of this band of heroes who followed Napoleon to the Island of Elba, and who returned with him to die at Waterloo, like formerly the old nobility of France on the plains of Agincourt.

To make this work as complete as possible, we placed at end of our work some of the military marches written for the Imperial Guard and arranged for the piano by one of our the most distinguished composers, Mr. Making Oscar.  Among the pieces which we will reproduce, we will cite the celebrated March of the Consular at Marengo; that of The Camps of Boulogne, the composition of Cherubini; Funeral March of Lesueur, played at the funeral of the Duke of Montebello; The Favorite, this ordinary step of the pupils, this from the other Imperial Guard of King of Rome, and the famous Accelerated Step known under the name of The Sailors Clear for Action, which was none other than a gallop carried out by the trumpets and the drums of these intrepid sailors.

Portraits, views of sites and monuments, armorial bearings, military scenes, and especially colored uniforms of the staff officers general and of each particular corps of the guard, such as grenadiers and chasseurs of the foot and horse, sappers, musicians and drums, tirailleurs, voltigeurs and flanqueurs; pupils and veterans, elite gendarmerie, trumpeters and timpanists, Polish lancers, dragoons and Mamelukes, heavy artillery and light artillery; sappers and miners of the engineers, baggage train crews, sailors, etc., were entrusted to the pencil of our best artists.

The task of the author was undoubtedly immense, but it was not above its untiring zeal.  He believed that it was a glorifier to the fatherland itself, its former army and its army of today, to decree this late but solemn homage to this old Imperial Guard which wearied imperishable traces of its passage on all the points of Europe, and whose echoes of the Pyramids and the Alps, the Escurial and the Kremlin, still repeat marvelous prowess and warlike virtues.  As for us, we were happy, to be associated, as an editor, with this noble and beautiful mission, which the author had asserted, and to which all sympathies of the public are certainly acquired, as with all that touches with glories of France. 

Conditions of the subscription.

The History of the Imperial Guard, printed, in new characters by Mr. Cosson, on large darling superfin, will be published into 40 livrai-sous at 50 c., 60 c for the province -- Each delivery will be composed of 16 pages of text, splendidly illustrated, and of one and sometimes two engravings colored and drawn except text -- It will appear in one or two deliveries every Saturday, as from February 15, 1845.

 

 

Placed on the Napoleon Series: 2005 - 2007

 

Organization Index ]



© Copyright 1995-2008, The Napoleon Series, All Rights Reserved.

Top | Home ]