the Army at the Beginning of the Italian Campain: March 1796
to the Army, May, 1796
"The Directory": May 11, 1796
"The Directory": May 14, 1796
to the Soldiers on Entering Milan: May 15, 1796
to the Soldiers on Entering Brescia: May 28, 1796
to the Soldiers During the Siege of Mantua, Nov. 6, 1796
to the Troops on the Conclusion of the First Italian Campaign, March,
to the Genoese, 1797
from a Letter to the Directory, April, 1797
to Soldiers after the Signing of the Treaty of Campo Formio, October,
to the Cisalpine Republic, Nov. 17, 1797
to the Citizens after the Signing of the Treaty of Camp Formio, Dec.
Napoleon's Addresses: The Italian Campaigns
Compiled By Tom Holmberg
Napoleon's Address to the Army at the Beginning
of the Italian Campaign, March, 1796
"Soldiers, you are naked and ill-fed! Government owes you much
and can give you nothing. The patience and courage you have shown
in the midst of these rocks are admirable; but they gain you no renown;
no glory results to you from your endurance. It is my design to lead
you into the most fertile plains of the world. Rich provinces and
great cities will be in your power; there you will find honor, glory,
and wealth. Soldiers of Italy! will you be wanting in courage or perseverance?"
Napoleon's Proclamation to the Army, May, 1796
"Soldiers: You have in fifteen days you have won six victories,
taken twenty-one stand of colors, fifty-five pieces of cannon, and
several fortresses, and overrun the richest part of Piedmont; you
have made 15,000 prisoners, and killed or wounded upwards of 10,000
men. Hitherto you have been fighting for barren rocks, made memorable
by your valor, though useless to your country, but your exploits now
equal those of the armies of Holland and the Rhine. You were utterly
destitute, and you have supplied all your wants. You have gained battles
without cannon, passed rivers without bridges, performed forced marches
without shoes, and bivouacked without strong liquors, and often without
bread. None but Republican phalanxes, the soldiers of liberty, could
have endured what you have done; thanks to you, soldiers, for your
perseverance! Your grateful country owes its safety to you; and if
the taking of Toulon was an earnest of the immortal campaign of 1794,
your present victories foretell one more glorious. The two armies
which lately attacked you in full confidence, now fly before you in
consternation; the perverse men who laughed at your distress, and
inwardly rejoiced at the triumph of your enemies, are now confounded
and trembling. But, soldiers, you have yet done nothing, for their
still remains much to do. Neither Turin nor Milan are yours; the
ashes of the conquerors of Tarquin are still trodden underfoot by
the assassins of Basseville.* It is said that there are some among
you whose courage is shaken, and who would prefer returning to the
summits of the Alps and Apennines. No, I cannot believe it. The
victors of Montenotte, Millesimo, Dego, and Mondovi are eager to extend
the glory of the French name!"
[*Nicolas-Jean-Hugon de Basseville (1753-1793) was a French diplomat
killed by a Roman mob on 13 January 1793.]
Letter to "The Directory"
May 11, 1796.
"Citizen Directors: — I thought that the passage of the
Po would be the most audacious performance of the campaign, the Battle
of Millesimo the liveliest encounter, but I have yet to give you an
account of the Battle of Lodi.
"At three o'clock on the morning of the 21st, we
pitched our headquarters at Casal. At nine o'clock, our vanguard
encountered the enemy defending the approaches to Lodi. I immediately
ordered all the cavalry to mount with four pieces of light artillery
which had just arrived, drawn by the carriage horses of the lords
"The division of General Augereau, which had camped over night
at Borghetto, and that of General Masséna, which slept at Casal, were
put in motion. Meantime, our vanguard had overturned all the posts
of the enemy, and seized one of heir cannon. We pursued the enemy
into Lodi, they having already crossed the Adda by the bridge. Beaulieu
with all his army was drawn up in battle array. Thirty set cannon
defended the passage of the bridge. I formed all my artillery into
a battery. The cannonading was very lively for several hours.
"As soon as the army arrived it formed into a close column with
the second battalion of rifles at its head, followed by all the battalions
of grenadiers. On the run, with cries of Vive la République,
they appeared on the bridge, which is over six hundred feet long.
The enemy kept up a terrible fire. The head of the column almost seemed
to waver. A moment's hesitation and all would have been lost. The
Generals Berthier, Masséna, Cervoni, Dallemagne, the Brigadier-General
Lannes, the Battalion-Commander Dupas felt this, and rushing to the
front, decided the fate of the day.
"This redoubtable column overrode all opposition, breaking Beaulieu's
order of battle, capturing all his artillery, and sowing on all sides
seeds of terror, flight, and death. In the twinkling of an eye the
enemy's army was dispersed. The Generals Rusca, Augereau, and Beyrand
crossed as soon as their divisions arrived, and completed the victory.
The cavalry crossed the Adda at a ford; but the ford proving extremely
bad, there was much delay, which prevented an engagement.
"The enemy's cavalry tried charging our troops, in order to
protect the retreat of their infantry, but our men were hard to frighten.
"Nightfall and the extreme fatigue of the troops, many of whom
had made more than ten leagues during the day, forced us to forego
the pleasure of pursuit.
"The enemy lost twenty pieces of cannon, and from two to three
thousand killed, wounded or prisoners. We lost but 150 men, dead
"Citizen Latour, General Masséna's captain aide-de-camp, received
several sabre cuts. I want the place of battalion commander for this
"Citizen Marmont, my aide-de-camp brigadier-general, had a horse
shot under him.
"Citizen Lemarois, my captain aide-de-camp, had his clothes
riddled by balls. The courage of this young officer is equal to his
"If called upon to name all the soldiers who distinguished themselves
on that extraordinary day, I should be obliged to name all the riflemen
and grenadiers of the vanguard, and nearly all the officers of the
staff. But I must not forget the intrepid Berthier, who was, in one
day, gunner, cavalier, and grenadier. Brigadier-General Sugny, commanding
the artillery, conducted himself creditably.
"Beaulieu fled with the remains of his army. Already Normandy
may be considered as belonging to the Republic. At this moment Beaulieu
is passing through the Venetian States, many of whose cities have
closed their doors upon him.
"I hope soon to send you the keys of Milan and Pavia.
"Although, since the beginning of the campaign, we have had
some pretty hot encounters, which the army of the French Republic
have met with audacity, not one of them has approached the terrible
passage of the bridge at Lodi.
"If we have lost but few good men it is due to promptness of
execution, and to the sudden effect produced upon the opposing army
by the size and formidable fire of our intrepid column."
Letter to "The Directory"
May 14, 1796.
"Citizen Directors:—I think it most impolitic to divide
the Italian army into two sections; it is equally contrary to the
interests of the Republic to put two generals in command.
"The expedition against Livourne, Rome, and Naples is a small
affair; it can be accomplished bt arranging the divisions in echelon
in such a manner as to enable them, by a retrograde march, to appear
in force against the Austrians, and threaten to hem them in at the
slightest movement on their part.
"For this it is not only necessary to have one general,
but he should have nothing to hinder him in his march or in his operations.
I have conducted the campaign without consulting anyone. I should
have accomplished nothing worth the trouble had I been obliged to
reconcile my ideas with those of another. I have gained some advantages
over very superior forces while in an almost destitute condition;
because I was persuaded of your entire confidence in me, my moves
were as prompt as my thoughts.
"If you fetter me on all sides; if it is necessary for me to
confer with the commissioners of the Government regarding each step;
if they have the right to change my movements, to send me troops or
withdraw them at their will, then look for no good.
"If you reduce your power by dividing your forces, if you break
the unity of the military outline in Italy, with grief I tell you,
you will have lost the most favorable occasion for bringing Italy
"In the present condition of the affairs of the Republic in
Italy, it is indispensable for you to have a general in whom you have
entire confidence. If it is not I, I make no complaint, I shall only
strive to redouble my zeal in order to merit your esteem in the past
that you may confide in me. Every one has his own manner of conducting
war. General Kellerman has had more experience and will do better
than I, but together we would make a dire failure.
"I cannot render our country any essential service unless invested
with your absolute and entire confidence. It requires much courage
on my part to write you in this way, I could so easily be accused
of pride and ambition. But I owe the expression of all my opinions
on the subject to one whose many tokens of esteem I shall never forget."
Proclamation to the Soldiers on Entering Milan,
May 15, 1796
"Soldiers: You have rushed like a torrent from the top of the
Apennines; you have overthrown and scattered all that opposed your
march. Piedmont, delivered from Austrian tyranny, indulges her natural
sentiments of peace and friendship toward France. Milan is yours,
and the Republican flag waves throughout Lombardy. The Dukes of Parma
and Modena owe their political existence to your generosity alone.
The army which so proudly threatened you can find no barrier to protect
it against your courage; neither the Po, the Ticino, nor the Adda
could stop you for a single day. These vaunted bulwarks of Italy opposed
you in vain; you passed them as rapidly as the Apennines. These great
successes have filled the heart of your country with joy. Your representatives
have ordered a festival to commemorate your victories, which has been
held in every district of the Republic. There your fathers, your wives,
sisters, and mistresses rejoiced in your good fortune and proudly
boasted of belonging to you. Yes, soldiers, you have done much,—but
remains there nothing more to do? Shall it be said us that we how
to conquer, but not how to make use of victory? Shall posterity reproach
us with having found Capau in Lombardy? But I see you already hasten
to arms. An effeminate response is tedious to you; the days which
are lost to glory are lost to your happiness. Well, then, let us set
forth! We have still forced marches to make, enemies to subdue, laurels
to gather, injuries to revenge. Let those who have sharpened the daggers
of civil war in France, who have basely murdered our ministers, and
burnt our ships at Toulon, tremble! The hour of vengeance has struck;
but let the people of all countries be free from apprehension; we
are the friends of the people everywhere, and those great men whom
we have taken for our models. To restore the capitol, to replace the
statues of the heroes who rendered it illustrious, to rouse the Roman
people, stupefied by several ages of slavery,—such will be the fruit
of our victories; they will form an era for posterity, you will have
the immortal glory of changing the face of the finest part of Europe.
The French people, free and respected by the whole world, will give
to Europe a glorious peace, which will indemnify them for the sacrifices
of every kind which for last six years they have been making. You
will then return to your homes and your country. Men will say, as
they point you out, 'He belonged to the army of Italy.'"
Proclamation to the Troops on Entering Brescia,
May 28, 1796
"It is to deliver the finest country in Europe from the iron
yoke of the proud House of Austria, that the French army has braved
the most formidable obstacles. Victory, siding with justice, has crowned
its efforts with success, the wreck of the enemy's army has retreated
behind the Mincio. In order to pursue them, the French army enters
the territory of the Republic of Venice; but it will not forget that
the two Republics are united by ancient friendship. Religion, government,
and customs shall be respected. Let the people be free from apprehension,
the severest discipline will be kept up; whatever the army is supplied
with shall be punctually paid for in money. The general-in-chief
invites the officers of the Republic of Venice, the magistrates, and
priests to make known his sentiments to the people, in order that
the friendship which has so long subsisted between the two nations
may be cemented by confidence. Faithful in the path of honor as in
that of victory, the French soldier is terrible only to the enemies
of his liberty and his government."
Address to the Soldiers During the Siege of Mantua,
Nov. 6, 1796
"Soldiers: I am not satisfied with you; you have shown neither
bravery, discipline, nor perseverance; no position could rally you;
you abandoned yourselves to a panic-terror; you suffered yourselves
to be driven from situations where a handful of brave men might have
stopped an army. Soldiers of the 39th and 85th,
you are not French soldiers. Quartermaster-general, let it be inscribed
on their colors, 'They no longer form part of the Army of Italy!'"
Address to the Troops on the Conclusion of the
First Italian Campaign, March, 1797
"Soldiers: The campaign just ended has given you imperishable
renown. You have been victorious in fourteen pitched battles and
seventy actions. You have taken more than a hundred thousand prisoners,
five hundred field-pieces, two thousand heavy guns, and four pontoon
trains. You have maintained the army during the whole campaign.
In addition to this, you have sent six millions of dollars to the
public treasury, and have enriched the National Museum with three
hundred masterpieces of the arts of ancient and modern Italy, which
it has required thirty centuries to produce. You have conquered the
finest countries in Europe. The French flag waves for he first time
upon the Adriatic opposite to Macedon, the native country of Alexander
[the Great]. Still higher destinies await you. I know that you will
not prove unworthy of them. Of all the foes that conspired to stifle
the Republic in its birth, The Austrian Emperor alone remains before
you. To obtain peace we must seek it in the heart of his hereditary
State. You will there find a brave people, whose religion and customs
you will respect, and whose prosperity you will hold sacred. Remember
that it is liberty you carry to the brave Hungarian nation."
Address to the Genoese, 1797
"I will respond, citizens, to the confidence you have reposed
in me. It is not enough that you refrain from hostility to religion.
You should do nothing which can cause inquietude to tender consciences.
To exclude the nobles from any public office, is an act of extreme
injustice. You thus repeat the wrong which you condemn in them.
Why are you people of Genoa so changed? Their first impulses of fraternal
kindness have been succeeded by terror and fear. Remember that the
priests were the first who rallied around the tree of liberty. They
first told you that the morality of the gospel is democratic. Men
have taken advantage of the faults, perhaps the crimes of individual
priests, to unite against Christianity. You have proscribed without
discrimination. When a State becomes accustomed to condemn without
hearing, to applaud a discourse because it is impassioned; when exaggeration
and madness are called virtue, moderation and equity designated as
crimes, that State is near its ruin. Believe me, I shall consider
that one of the happiest moments of my life in which I hear that the
people of Genoa are united among themselves and live happily."
Extract from a Letter to the Directory, April,
"From these different posts we shall command the Mediterranean,
we shall keep an eye on the Ottoman Empire, which is crumbling to
pieces, and we shall have it in our power to render the dominion of
the ocean almost useless to the English. They have possession of
the Cape of Good Hope. We can do without it. Let us occupy Egypt.
We shall be in the direct road for India. It will be easy for us to
found there one of the finest colonies in the world. It is in
Egypt that we must attack England."
Address to Soldiers after the Signing of the Treaty
of Campo Formio, October, 1797
"Soldiers: I set out to-morrow for Germany. Separated from
the army, I shall sigh for the moment of my rejoining it, and brave
fresh dangers. Whatever post Government may assign to the soldiers
of the Army of Italy, they will always be the worthy supporters of
liberty and of the glory of the French name. Soldiers, when you talk
of the Princes you have conquered, of the nations you have set free,
and the battles you have fought in two campaigns, say: In the next
two we shall do still more!"
Proclamation to the Cisalpine Republic, Nov. 17,
"We have given you liberty. Take care you preserve it. To
be worthy of your destiny make only discreet and honorable laws, and
cause them to be executed with energy. Favor the diffusion of knowledge,
and respect religion. Compose your battalions not of disreputable
men, but with citizens imbued with the principles of the Republic,
and closely linked with the prosperity. You have need to impress
yourselves with the feelings of your strength, and with the dignity
which befits the free man. Divided and bowed by ages of tyranny,
you could not alone have achieved your independence. In a few years,
if true to yourselves, no nation will be strong enough to wrest liberty
from you. Till then the great nation will protect you."
Address to the Citizens after the Signing of the
Treaty of Camp Formio, Dec. 10, 1797
"Citizens: The French people, in order to be free, had kings
to combat. To obtain a constitution founded on reason it had the
prejudices of eighteen centuries to overcome. Priestcraft, feudalism,
despotism, have successively, for two thousand years, governed Europe.
From the peace you have just concluded dates the era of representative
governments. You have succeeded in organizing the great nation, whose
vast territory is circumscribed only because nature herself has fixed
its limits. You have done more. The two finest countries in Europe,
formerly as renowned for the arts, the sciences, and the illustrious
men, whose cradle they were, see with the greatest hopes genius and
freedom issuing from the tomb of their ancestors. I have the honor
to deliver to you the treaty signed at Camp Formio, and ratified by
the Emperor. Peace secures the liberty, the prosperity, and the glory
of the Republic. As soon as the happiness of France is secured by
the best organic laws, the whole of Europe will be free."
Napoleon's Addresses: Selections from the Proclamations, Speeches
and Correspondence of Napoleon Bonaparte. Edited by Ida M. Tarbell.
(Boston: Joseph Knight, 1896.)
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