NEW ORGANIZATION OF THE CONSULAR GUARD.
YEARS 1802, 1803.
And the first six months of the year 1804.
The Consular Guard was already magnificent. It had to be seen at the court of the Tuileries when Napoleon on horseback, the thinner body, and wearing a uniform of which simplicity was still the best way of distinguishing it, it had to be seen, we say, following with an attentive eye, the frightening battalions which developed majestically in front of him. At his sides was the group of his young aides-de-camp, among whom one distinguished Junot, in his brilliant hussar costume; Savary and Rapp, with their so serious figures; Duroc, elegant like a gentleman; Marmont, always sad as if on his face had been written the sad destiny which the political events held for him one day; then, in front of the Consul, the four General Commanders in Chief of the Consular Guard; and, among them, the young Eugene de Beauharnais, Colonel of the Guides. However, the Consul finding that his Guard was neither rather splendid, nor rather large, by a new decree of 17 ventose year X (March 8, 1802), supplemented its final organization. This decree was thus put forth:
“ART. 1st. In the future the Consular Guard will be made up in the following way; namely:
Four general officers.
A corps of foot grenadiers and corps of foot
chasseurs, each made up of a staff, with two battalions; and each battalion,
of eight companies.
Foot Grenadier Staff.
Foot Grenadier Company.
* Specially charged with noting the number of men present under the flags, and as well with preventing the Treasury from paying useless soldiers or even those that didn’t exist.
Foot Chasseurs Staff.
The same composition of staff and the companies as that of the foot grenadiers.”
ARTILLERY, PARK AND TRAIN.*
Horse Artillery Company.
Employees of the Park.
1 Artillery Guard.—1 Subordinate Guard.—1 Conductor.”
Attached to this company were 120 horses, not including those of the officers.
* Hitherto the artillery carts had been transported by carters who, depending on the particular company of transport, were not restrained by the same feeling of the honor as the other soldiers. These carters, at the first sign of danger, cut the traces of their horses, fled and thus giving up their cannons. The First Consul therefore thought that the driver charged to bring the piece instead of combat, rendered a service just as great as the gunner charged with serving this piece: “Since he runs the same danger, he said on this occasion, he needs the same moral incentive, i.e. honor.” The First Consul, we say, thus converted the artillery carters into soldiers, clothed them in uniforms and made them belong to this arm. In fact riders moreover were to bring as much zeal to lead their piece in front of the enemy, or to quickly remove them so that the gunners could load, aim and fire them.
Horse Grenadier Staff.
Horse Grenadier Company.
Horse Chasseur Staff.
The same composition as that of the horse grenadier staff and companies.
However, the First Consul reserved himself the right to appoint the brigade head, the squadron heads, the adjutant major, the quartermaster, the adjutant sub lieutenants and the medical officers who were still missing from the staff, when he judged it appropriate to complete this regiment.
“ART. 8. Established the number of horses for the officers, non commissioned officers and soldiers.”
“ART. 9. There will be a company of veterans, formed of the officers, noncommissioned-officers and guards who will have served three years in the Consular Guard, and have been judged out of shape to continue on active service; their pay will be the same as that of the foot grenadiers.
The force of this company will not exceed the number fixed hereafter, i.e.:
ADMISSION TO THE INVALIDES.
The officers and veterans who currently compose the companies of the Guard will remain there until their age, their wounds or their infirmities do not enable them to do anymore active service in the corps; then they will be allowed into the Invalids, on the request that the general officer commanding the infantry of the Consular Guard will make to the Minister of War.
ADMINISTRATION OF THE MILITARY HOSPITAL.
Known as the Gros-Caillou.
The military hospital established at Gros-Caillou will continue to serve the corps of the Consular Guard, and managed by an Administrative Council made up of the officers of different the corps, chosen among the members of the respective administrative councils, thusly:
The Brigade Head of the Foot
“ART. 12. The council above will be installed by the Reviewing Inspector; it will be renewed, each quarter, by members of the same ranks, but selected in other bodies, so that each body of which the Consular Guard is composed provides in turn all the members of this council.
The Administrative Council will hold its meetings in the enclosure of the hospital; it will balance the expenditures every month and provisionally; the Reviewing Inspector check them and will validate them every three months, in the presence of one of the general officers of the corps.
The list of the subordinate employees will be in proportion to the need for the service, and subjected to the approval of the generals commanding the various corps of the Consular Guard; this list will be then renewed every year.”
“ART. 13. The medical officers, for service at the hospital of the corps, will be fixed at the following number, i.e.:
“ART. 14. The three head health officers will be invited, by the president of the Administrative Council, to be at the meetings where they will only serve in an advisory capacity.
The Commissioner of Wars of the corps will act as recording secretary of the council.”
“ART. 15. By means of the provisions above, the force of the Consular Guard will be thus fixed, namely:
* It should be noted here that this figure of 7,266 is not the figure decreed for the cadres of the various arms of the Consular Guard. The real figure of the strength of the men present in the corps was always less, in spite of the many recruits for each one of these corps. Nine months after the promulgation of this decree, i.e. about the last about fifteen of the year 1802 according to the muster rolls that I have seen, the Consular Guard did not comprise in all, staff and administration, infantry, cavalry, artillery, veterans and health service of the hospital included, 5,324 men, i.e. nearly a quarter less. The force of this Guard hardly exceeded this last figure in the current two years, which followed.
The soldiers of all arms have to belong to
the Consular Guard; their admission in this body is the reward of bravery
“ART. 34. The Minister of War, on the request of one of the general officers, will dispatch the orders necessary for making one become soldiers selected for any of the various army corps, to be incorporated into the Consular Guard, according to the arms or corps where these men will have to enter.”
Two grenadiers of the Consular Guard having committed suicide, the First Consul made put on the order of the day the following note *:
“The grenadier Gaubin committed suicide for reasons of love. He was a very-good subject besides; his is the second event of this nature, which has come to the corps this month. The First Consul orders that it is put in the regulations of the Guard, that a soldier must know to overcome the pain and the melancholy of passions; that there is as much true courage to suffer with constancy the sorrow of the heart as to remain fixed and motionless under the grapeshot of a battery. To give up oneself with sorrow without resisting, to get tired to withdraw oneself from it, it is to give up the battlefield before you have vanquished.”
Now, we believe it best to be able to place before the eyes of the reader a synoptic, exact and complete table of the general staff and of all the distinct corps of which it was composed, as of the end of March 1803, the Consular Guard, infantry, artillery and health service per rank and nature of employment, in accordance with the military hierarchy. This Guard, thus organized for the second time, underwent no more changes, no significant modification until the end of May 1804, the time at which Napoleon, became Emperor, and metamorphosed the Consular Guard into the Imperial Guard.
STAFF AND ADMINISTRATION.
LARREY, Head surgeon.
* Order of the Day 22 floréal year X (May 12, 1802): By a decree of the Consuls on 10 floréal year XI (April 30, 1803), containing modifications to the organization of artillery of the Consular Guard, the title of brigade head was changed to that of colonel. This reform extended soon to all the army corps. The Minister of War having returned an ordinance which brought some changes in the uniform of the staff of the Consular Guard, Napoleon wrote to him, on Thermidor 16 year XI (4 August 1803): “I do not believe that you want to remove the plume and the cross-belt from the brigadier generals, for which they have more need; that you believe to have to give a uniform item to the lieutenant-general which is not a rank; that you changed the color of the uniform of the aides-de-camp, you are free to do. However, where do these changes lead, if not to put into a state of inconvenience the men who had done everything in uniforms? As for the Consular Guard more especially, I intend that except me, nobody should meddle with what can be wrongly or rightly an improvement in its behavior or its well being.”
FOOT GRENADIER STAFF.
HULIN, Brigade Head, Colonel.
REANT, Captain Quartermaster, treasurer.
DUDAUJON, Surgeon first class, attached to the first battalion.
CHAPPE, Surgeon first class, attached to the second battalion.
BRAISE, Medical officer, third class.
FOOT CHASSEUR STAFF.
SOULÈS, Brigade Head, Colonel.
MOREAU, Captain Quartermaster, treasurer.
VERGES, Surgeon first class, attached to the first battalion.
LACHAISE, Surgeon first class, attached to the second battalion.
MAGRAS, Student surgeon.
HORSE GRENADIER STAFF.
ORDENER, Brigade Head, Colonel.
PARISOT, Captain instructor.
HORSE CHASSEUR STAFF.
EUGÈNE BEAUHARNAIS, Brigade Head, Colonel.
ASSALIGNY, Medical officer, 1st class.
DAVID, Medical officer, 2nd class.
CHARPENTIER, Battalion Head.
ARTILLERY AND PARK.
COIN, Squadron Head.
HOSPITAL SERVICES OF THE CONSULAR GUARD.
MONTESSUY, Proprietor contractor (entrepreneur fournisseur.)
Such was the framework of the officers of this famous Consular Guard who Napoleon could obtain from deep obedience first of all, the most complete abnegation and absolute devotion. None the officers of the Consular Guard dared to resist an order emanating from him; because his word always inspired a kind of admiration: his cheerfulness created joy in all, his sadness a mourning. What we have said here, which several writers have spoken about was the opposition that some of the general officers did not fear to express who commanded the Consular Guard. We can certify that these small oppositions, if they existed at all, never went without resistance. The superiority of the First Consul was so accepted, that it was necessary to obey him above all and without reflection. Nevertheless, he would never have allowed that obedience without reason. It sometimes happened for him to be familiar with the officers of his Guard and preferably with the soldiers: he smiled at the some, slightly pulled the ear of others, and to all dispensed words of satisfaction, blame or encouragement collected like the voice of God by his servants; but never, we repeat, did he allow the officers Consular Guard, whatever was the eminence of their grade, the least reflection on an order that he had given. Napoleon believed himself rather strongly ahead of his contemporaries, likewise ahead of history, in taking the whole responsibility for its actions. It was a source of pride in his intelligence and of his genius, because, perhaps, only he knew all that it was worth.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: May 2005
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