Fallen Eagles: a Story of French Military Dissent in Iberia

By Roberto A. Scattolin, Italy


Becoming fed up with life under arms – this premise is one of the many motives against protracted warfare in the Iberian Peninsula by a seasoned French non-commissioned officer giving up on that condition.

The impact of the Napoleonic wars and the ideals to bring about a centralized empire proved to be a challenging as well as a shocking experience to countless conscripts and veteran soldiers who, hurled into the erupting volcano of vainglory, identified their civic faith more as social participants and political dissidents of local civil societies in their native homeland.

It was a period of anxieties and consequential events, when French society and the plot of political power were dictated by the rapacious appetites of Napoleon I, a 19th Century military autocrat who unsuccessfully tried to consolidate his ambitious despotism by largely aggressive military campaigns throughout Europe.

The following documentary describes the conditions of the social aspect of military life in the Empire of Napoleon; it indicates that gallantry under arms did not always bring honneur (i.e., honour) in French military service.

It further emphasizes the overwhelming difficulties the troops faced in being promptly supplied while on campaign in a foreign country (Portugal, 1811), a sad circumstance which prevented the soldiers to keep to conformed standards of daily life.

These inevitable differences of opinion occurred for many years, due to hardships endured by the regiments, the impasse in the military operations, and the shortage of provisions.

This narration equally sheds further light on the difficult problems of logistics in promptly supplying food and arms and by protecting the supply lines that were subjected to constant harassment by Spanish guerrillas

These factors led to further discontent in the army units in spite of Napoleon’s claiming propagandisme politique et militaire (i.e., political and military propagandism) on a mass scale.

Life became difficult, unsure and frightening. 

Portugal 1811: the declension of honour

There is unquestionable evidence that in truth, the primary cause and effect of military banditry was the effort on the part of some of the troops to try and survive in a foreign landkeeping up a forced choice for new conveniences of organized life.

However, departing from the regular ranks infringed on the military code, and that action was to be sanctioned by tough disciplinary dispositions. 

The reverse of the coin was instead that the course taken by the independents for liberty from military law had exceedingly pejorative effects at the meeting with Portuguese social realities.

The failure to respect others’ liberty and consequentially the interrelated family ties[1], as well as imposing their arbitrary will and untold predatory incursions, proved to be a fatal mistake.

This kind of social war[2], and the ensuing string of misdeeds, lowered the moral conduct of every former soldier: the dogs of war were now at ease.

A French sergeant, wearied of the misery in which the army was living, resolved to decamp and live in comfort.  To this end he persuaded about a hundred of the worst characters in the army, and going with them to the rear, took up his quarters in a vast convent deserted by the monks, but still full of furniture and provision[3].

Comment: Just a couple of phrases to start with our critical analysis on this detailed and enthralling memorial text, and, for proper literary definition, a sixty-one words (20, 41) narrative introduction.

The first piece of information we point out is about the clearly-stated and defined nationality (French extraction) of an unnamed soldier; a further specific detail is confirmed about the military position this fellow covered in the army ranks.

A sergent[4] (i.e., sergeant), through an increasing prevalence of severely enacted obligations of active service[5], and acquired expertise, was employed under extreme circumstances in the Iberian conflict and emergency theatre. 

And shoulder to shoulder through friendship and sharing the unpleasant bread of everyday suffering in Portugal of this era, he had acquired a deserved reputation for esprit de sacrifice (i.e., spirit of sacrifice).  

Grinding poverty and untold restrictions[6] were then hardy conditioning factors for survival within the French regular troops – employed in campaigning in the rough territories of continental Portugal.

Living conditions under arms were burdensome; protracted marches sapped their strength; no joy or happiness prevailed due to their military duties.

Uncontained in his mood, and reacting to the tactical passiveness of his superior command, the sergent had instigated his own plan to remove himself out of this morass of hopelessness.

The plan he envisaged had a basic efficacy; in this way he tried to ameliorate the living conditions through his determined resolve and the influences which boosted his persona[7].  

The need for comfort and the urge for self-preservation were appealing, and both of them were like a breath of fresh air, for the personal benefits of many discontented members.

They especially indulged in tasty food, palatable drinking water.

Comfortable lodging was perceived as a seductive challenge with which they had to deal.

To search for proper shelter and personal well-being admirably conveyed the emotional rejection against conscription into the regular army, and the wretchedness which was much often the fatal lot of deserters alike.

In a time of convenience, le sergent (i.e., the sergeant) successfully forged together the grumblers giving them cohesive life and unified intent, and finally managed to persuade the many voices of dissent which marched in the ranks of his fellow-soldiers to take independent armed action.

Aware of the many difficulties and complications which his adventurous enterprise was to cause, the indomitable sous-officier (i.e., NCO) had a combat-manpower well organized under his compelling authority; its duty was to protect and support the march movements thus averting hostile parties from sudden attacks. 

His tactics were to decamp[8].

Seemingly a dysfunctional and multifaceted unit (infantry, plus a cavalry compound), the hundred-man combat force made a timely move to the rear of the French deployment.

Not without some difficulties the independent combatants reached the vicinity of a strongly built and wall-enclosed monastery[9].

To quarter such a large number of men plus the animals required effective instructions, in primis to keep all the mobile group compacted on the spot.

Emphasis must be given to details of sort: the monks[10] had been informed about the advancing host, and to avoid major troubles and savage pillaging resolved to hastily leave the building of consecrated life.

This motivation for safety does represent the only explanation to the fact that abundant provisions were discovered, and furniture as well (this element is important; it corroborates that the goods could not be moved away on account of the immediacy of the French threat).

Ingenious as the sergent’s organizational capabilities were, his versatile strategic understanding is even more indicative of his real aptitude of command and responsibility.

The monastery was the only building fitted to face any major kind of strategic contingency; and it became a strongpoint, compared to a local headquarters for this autonomous assemblage (i.e., gathering) of malcontents – “les chiens déracinés de la guerre” (i.e., the uprooted dogs of war) – who had abandoned the ranks of their army for less than heroic rules of conduct, and opting for new choices of political and military order.


“[…] worst […]”; observing strictly the whole statement, a more precise usage -- grammatically rendered through an absolute superlative -- is thus doubtful.

This assertion would have implied that the narrator personally knew all the soldiers under the arms during that eventful time of military experience and service (i.e., service).

Almost paradoxically, and because of the abovementioned implication, this misleading expression must be discarded.

There is a fairly recognizable intention: that the focus of this argument was that a new radical choice had been granted necessary for material existence and survival.

He increased his store largely by carrying off everything in the neighborhood that suited him; well-furnished spits and stewpans were always at the fire, and each man helped himself as he would; and the leader received the expressive if contemptuous name ofMarshal Stockpot””[11].

Comment: One sentence; and a forty-five terms syntactical complementarity.

The practical organization of an independent troop faced many unexpected difficulties.

After carefully reading this chronicled passage, it seems that establishing a permanent service de cuisine (i.e., kitchen service), and relying by means of distributive resources (materials) and complémentaires (complementaries), was a sensible move in order to grant the combatants the appearance of a cohesive organization.

It was a convenient solution to the urgencies for solid nourishment, to keep up the welfare of the enterprise and the general on-going support of the independents.

But the monastery was devoid of adequate means of providing for so many voracious mouths.

It was necessary to search elsewhere for the goods and the materials with which to continue providing assistance to the men serving in this mobile combat unit.

This policy – a deviated course of military action against defenceless women and children – generated many contradictory events, forcing ungenerous acts of violence, tyranny and oppression to the local Portuguese residents in the nearby neighbourhood[12].

Cuisine activities were to become the main attraction for the troop and a point of shared joviality which freed the men from the clutches of hunger and cold.

This detail tells much, especially the fact that the cuisine was continuously kept warm – due to the cold weather.

A point of not negligible interest.

So beneficial and improving was the sergent’s solicitous caring of the troop, that in due time he rapidly ascended the ladder of leadership, eventually gaining promotion to the rank of Marshal.

The honorific rank Maréchal Stockpot with which he was entitled was a most significant and quite symbolic nickname, due to the fact that his main concern and manoeuvring dealt with the culinary arts of fine food and drink.

There is trusty evidence that he had a consummate and discriminating taste (about quality, and freshness), and was not merely knowledgeable in the art of food preparation.

However, an exceedingly good promotion in the art culinaire (i.e., culinary art) did not mean per excess that he did not fight “valorously” in long enduring gourmetary campaigns.


“[…] contemptuous name of […]”; this assertion represents a lack of objectivity -- and quite a formal opinion conceived by the author.

“Stockpot” was not quite so base and reckless a man who only was interested in a self-established independent military career and taking the most elusive title of Maréchal (i.e., Marshal) as well.

This would have implied sharing an esprit de grandeur (i.e., spirit of greatness) when instead, dealing with the difficulties of providing the daily necessities was quite pressing upon him.

Under the circumstances, that marginal “title” cannot be considered a trait of haughtiness and ambiguous extolling.

The attributed nickname was unrelated to any martial responsibility and “standing army” command; on the contrary, it was assimilated to the leader’s indefatigable striving to appease his men’s hunger. 

The scoundrel had also carried off numbers of women; and being joined before long by the scum of the three armies, attracted by the prospect of unrestrained debauchery, he formed a band of some three hundred English, French, and Portuguese deserters, who lived as a happy family in one unbroken orgy[13].

Comment: One sentence, a fifty-one words lexemic count.

Because severe infringements to the disciplinary code had occurred after leaving the military jurisdiction, a major level of permissiveness and moral slackening thus ensued.

Virtue, the virtue of continence, and pulchritudo (i.e., pulchritude), became a forced compromise, and honour lost its appeal after the brutal actions taken against the Portuguese civilians.

And when time had restored the forces and vitality to the independent troop, taedium vitae became a much heavier weight to bear than before.

After having abandoned the stern military discipline, the independents try to create their own social reality, conformed to their sense of existence -- and established rules of coercion, pillaging, and flowering seeds of séductions sexuelles (i.e., lust)[14].

Worst of all, a growing influx of new-comers – more British and Portuguese deserters – conferred an international character to la partida de los indipendentes (i.e., the band of the independents).

Joining the ranks was detrimentally implemented with an additional 200% increase[15] (attention: the true based estimation for the increasing troops has to be adduced as corroborative data from Marbot’s reminiscent French documentary account: it significantly equals to the 400% rate of the active fighting manpower)[16] – of dissatisfaction and pride.

And it may be a point of contention that no longer having to care for military actions, their major interest turned to women chasing, and to imposing their licentious attitudes of intemperance and unchaste demeanour.

The long way of perdition: moral sinuosities, and compunction

The scoundrel […]”; changing of character, and loosening the military attitudes of resignation and respect, signalled the beginning of the end.

Morality took a beating, and the former troop’s discipline turned into an effectual promiscuous lascivité (i.e., lasciviousness).

Under the pretensions of the literary text, it appeared that the height of débauche (i.e, dissipation) had reached its ultimate zenith.

However, the presence of some hembras de vida libre (i.e., women of free life and customs) cannot be excluded.

This brigandage had been going on for some months, when one day, a foraging detachment having gone off in pursuit of a flock as far as the convent which sheltered the so-calledMarshal Stockpot, our soldiers were much surprised to see him coming to meet them at the head of his bandits, with orders to respect his grounds and restore the flock which they had just taken there. On the refusal of our officers to comply with this demand, he ordered his men to fire on the detachment. The greater part of the French deserters did not venture to fire on their compatriots and former comrades, but the English and Portuguese obeyed, and our people had several men killed or wounded. Not being in sufficient numbers to resist, they were compelled to retreat, accompanied by all the French deserters, who came back with them to offer their submission[17].

Comment: Four sentences; one hundred forty-nine words (69, 20, 33, 27) articulated complex.

Banditry-like activities (aka unmilitary and deviated action) seem to have been the main spring for sheer survival à la campagne (i.e., in the country), engendering heavily suffered consequences of pillage and the complete violation of human rights – to the local civilians. 

The continued threat to the country’s constituted peaceful living conditions strained the social interactions of the economic order as well.

Flocks, a greatly appreciated source of living, were raided and brought to the convent’s pastures, where their presence and benefits would have been of material importance to appease the troop’s hunger.

However unprecedented the meeting with the regular French foraging detachment was, it represented a point of maximum tension especially to the independents of French extraction.

This episode has an especially significant interest because it presents a confirmation that the values of honour and devotion to arms had not been completely erased in many of the discontents and hot heads.

A further point of remark is that the passing of time had not altered the innermost affection of their military roots – and this might be regarded as proof of the remaining spark of goodness and patriotism in their hearts.

Storming the monastery: the great assault

Massena pardoned them on condition that they should march at the head of the three battalions who were told off to attack the convent. That den having been carried after a brief resistance, Massena hadMarshal Stockpotshot, as well as the few French who had remained with him. A good many English and Portuguese shared their fate, the rest were sent off to Wellington, who did prompt justice on them[18].

Comment: Three phrases; a seventy-one (24, 25, 22) worded morphologic composition.

Showing inspired wisdom, André Massena’s shrewd choice – and flexibility criteria – of pardoning some of the rebellious regiments (where the seeds of discontent had spread) was subtle; it helped restore the dignity of the repentant combatants who had not been shot by firing squads and were to be granted a pardon. 

However, as newly soldats assermentés (i.e. professed soldiers), they were reinstated in the ranks, the first ranks, to carry on active duty in the line of fire.

And, of necessity, they would lead their fellow-comrades against the former frères d’armes (i.e., brothers in arms; the French who did not come back) and compagnons d’aventure (i.e., companions of adventure; British and Portuguese armed parties).

This choice, dictated by the economy of warfare operations would have “nobly” minimized the losses in action (to the disadvantage of the condemned deserters), and assisted the proficiency of the regular French troop battalions. 

No additional specifications are presented about the battle engagement which ensued and invested the convent location and the area mostly controlled by the independent Anglo-Lusitanian forces – but its severity is indubitable.

After carefully pondering on the narrative matter, a last peculiarity cannot pass unmentioned; and it is to consider that the “dean” (a severely attributed epithet for the dishonoured behaviourism and frustrated sexual permissivism he stained his independent command) was the only one “General-commander” to be shot under the French “Marshallate” – serving the anti-Napoleonic cause.

Once more the meadows of bravery were greened by the probity and promptitude of those who had denied serving with “Stockpot”; in a renewed horizon of life any kind of licentiousness disappeared under the veil of misery and mercy.

That adventurous although lamentable story was over.


1810, 19 February: Portugal and England sign a further Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Trade.

June: Third invasion of the French army this time led by Maréchal Massena.

English reinforcements arrive by boat from England.

24 July: Battle of Bridge of Côa. The English forces under General Robert Craufurd create severe casualties and delay the advance of the French troops led by Marshal Michael Ney.

1 August: Declaration by Marshal Massena that a large French army was invading Portugal from Ciudade Rodrigo, in Spain, to fight the English army and not the Portuguese.

15 August: Siege of Almeida – English forces forced to surrender on the 18th of August after heavy bombardment from French forces.

10 September: Fifty leading Portuguese liberals are exiled to the Island of Terceira, in Azores, for promoting the policies.

18 September: The French army occupies Viseu.

27 September: Battle of Buçaco – The French army led by Marshal Masséna suffers a serious defeat against an inferior number of English and Portuguese troops.

1 October: The French army occupies Coimbra and sacks the town.

7 October: Portuguese troops led by Coronel Trant retake Coimbra.

Wellesley awarded title of Marquês de Torres Vedras.

14 October: The French army led by Masséna tries to penetrate without success the Linhas de Torres fortifications at Sobral – the foreign troops also attempt to cross the river by boat but the Chamusca boatmen burn many of their boats.

29 October: General Francisco da Silveira Pinto da Fonseca Teixeira, Conde de Amarante encircles the Fort of Almeida; he retreats on the 13th as superior French reinforcements arrive.

15 November: The French army short of supplies withdraws to Santarém.

30 December: Battle of Bridge of Abade – General Silveira engages with the French army led by General Clarapède near Lamego. 

Bibliography and further reading

Primary Sources

1. English works:



Gifford, C. H. (Esq.). History of the wars occasioned by the French Revolution, from the commencement of hostilities in 1792, to the end of the year 1816. Volume I. London: Printed and Published by W. Lewis, St. John’s Square. 1817.  

Gifford, C. H.. THE LIFE OF THE MOST NOBLE ARTHUR, DUKE OF WELLINGTON; FROM HIS EARLIET YEARS, Down to the Treaty of Paris in 1815: Comprising Particular Details of the great Battles of VIMIERA, TALAVERA, SALAMANCA, VITTORIA AND THE PYRENEES; An historical View of the Origin, Progress, and Termination of the Peninsular War. VOL. I. London: Printed and Published by W. Lewis, 22, St. John’s Square; and sold by all the Booksellers. 1817.

Granville Eliot, William. A treatise of the defence of Portugal, with a military map of the country; to which is added, a sketch of the manners and customs of the inhabitants, and principal events of the campaigns under Lord Wellington. London: Printed for T. Egerton, Military Library, Whitehall. 1811.

Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). The Memoirs of Baron De Marbot, late Lieutenant-General in the French Army. Vol. II. Translated from the French by Arthur John Butler late fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. London, Longmans, Green, and Co.; and New-York: 1892.

Marbot, (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935.

Pelet, Jean-Jacques-Germain (Baron). The French Campaign in Portugal 1810-1811: An Account. Edited, translated, and annotated by Dr. Donald Horward. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, University, 1973.

Wellesley Wellington, Arthur (1st Duke of). The dispatches of Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, K.G. during his various campaigns in India, Denmark, Portugal, Spain, The Low Countries, and France, from 1799 to 1818. Compiled from official and authentic documents by Lieut. Colonel Gurwood, Esquire to His Grace as Knight of the Bath. Volume the Sixth. London: John Murray, Albemarle Street. MDCCCXXXVI.

Stothert, William (captain; adjutant Third Foot Guards). A narrative of the principal events on the campaigns of 1809, 1810, & 1811, in Spain and Portugal; interspersed with remarks on local scenery and manners. In a Series of Letters. London: Printed for P. Martin, (late of the Firm of Cuthell & Martin) corner of Orchard Street, Oxford Street; by W. Smith and Co. King Street, Seven Dials. 1812.

2. French works:

Almanach Impérial pour l’année 1810, présenté à S. M. l’Empereur et Roi. À Paris, Testu, s.d..

Beaujot (Capitaine). Relation de captivité. Éditions Historiques Teissèdre, Paris, 2001.

Beauvais du Preau, Charles-Théodore. Annales des faits et des sciences militaires, faisant suite aux victoires et conquêtes des Français de 1792 à 1815. Paris, Panckoucke, 1818-1819.

Béchet de Léocour (Général). Souvenirs. Publiés et annotés par Christian Schneider, préface par Jean Tulard. Paris, Librairie Historique F. Teissèdre, 1999.

Belmas, Jacques Vital (chef de bataillon du Génie). Journaux des siéges faits ou soutenus par le français dans la péninsule, de 1807 à 1814; rédigés, d’après les ordres du Gouvernement, sur les documents existant aux archives de la Guerre et au dépôt des fortifications. Tome Premier. Paris, Chez Firmin Didot Frères et Cie, Rue Jacob, N° 24. M DCC XXXVI. Tome Deuxième. Paris, Chez Firmin Didot Frères et Cie, Rue Jacob, N° 56. M DCC XXXVI. Tome Deuxième. Paris, Chez Firmin Didot Frères et Cie, Rue Jacob, N° 56. M DCC XXXVII.

Collectif. Victoires, conquêtes, desastres, revers et guerres civiles des français, de 1792 à 1815. Tome XX. C. L. F. Panckoucke, Paris, 1820.

Delagrave, André. Campagne de l’armée française en Portugal, dans les années 1810 et 1811. Avec un précis de celles qui l’ont précédée. Par Mr. A.D.L.G., officier supérieur employé dans l’État-Major de cette armée. Paris, J. G. Dentu, Imprimeur-Libraire, Rue du Pont de Lodi, n° 9, près le Pont-Neuf. 1815.

––––––– (Colonel). Mémoires du colonel Delagrave, Campagne du Portugal (1810-1811). Avertissement et notes par Édouard Gachot. Paris, Ch. Delagrave, 1902.

Foy, Maximilien Sébastien (Général). Histoire de la guerre de la péninsule sous Napoléon précédée d’un tableau politique et militaire des puissances bélligérantes. Publiés par madame la comtesse Foy. Paris, Baudouin Frères, éditeurs, 1827.

–––––––. Histoire des guerres de la péninsule sous Napoléon précédée d’un tableau politique et militaire des puissances bélligérantes. Paris, Houdaille, 1834.

Fririon, François Nicolas. Journal historique de la campagne de Portugal, entreprise par les français, sous les ordres du maréchal Masséna, prince d’Essling, du 15 septembre 1810 au 12 mai 1811. Leneveu, Paris, 1841.

Guingret, P.-F. (Chef de bataillon, en demi-activité, et Officier de l’Ordre Royal de la Légion d’honneur). Relation historique et militaire de la campagne de Portugal, sous le Maréchal Masséna, Prince d’Essling; contenant les opérations militaires qui se rapportent à l’expédition de Masséna, et les divers faits de l’Armée de Portugal, jusqu’à la fin de la Guerre d’Espagne. Limoges, chez Bargeas, Imprimeur-Libraire, rue Ferrerie, Mai, 1817.

Hulot, Jacques Louis. Souvenirs militaires du baron Hulot, général d’artillerie, 1773-1843. Paris, Spectateur militaire, 1886.


Koch, Jean-Baptiste (Général). Mémoires de Masséna. Rédigées d’après les documents qu’il a laissés et sur ceux du dépôt de la guerre et du dépôt des fortifications. Paulin et Lechevalier, Paris, 1848-1850.

Lamare (colonel). Relation des sièges et défenses d’Olivença, de Badajoz et de Campo-Mayor en 1811 et 1812. Paris : Anselin et Pochard, 1825.

Lemonnier-Delafosse, Jean-Baptiste (Lieutenant-Colonel en retraite, Officier de la Légion d’Honneur). Campagnes de 1810 à 1815. Souvenirs Militaires faisant suite à ceux des Première campagne et deuxième campagnes de St-Domingue, de 1801 à 1809. Havre, Imprimerie du Commerce – Alph. Lemale. 1850.

Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891.  Vol. II, pp. 378-380.

Marcel, Nicolas (Capitaine). Campagnes du Capitaine Marcel du 69e de ligne en Espagne et en Portugal (1808-1814). Mises en ordre, annotées et publiées par le Commandant Var. Paris, Librairie Plon, Plon-Nourrit et Cie., Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, 1913.

Marmont, Auguste-Frédéric-Louis Viesse (de, Maréchal Duc de Raguse). Mémoires du Maréchal Marmont Duc de Raguse de 1792 à 1841. Imprimés sur le manuscript original de l’auteur. Paris, Perrotin, 1857.

MÉMOIRES D’ANDRÉ MASSÉNA - DUC DE RIVOLI - PRINCE D’ESSLING - MARÉCHAL D’ EMPIRE. Rédigés d’après les documents qu’il a laissés et sur ceux du dépôt de la guerre et du dépôt des fortifications recueillis par le Général Koch. Avec un atlas. Tome septième.  A Paris au 7 du faubourg St-Honoré près la nouvelle église de La Madeleine CHEZ JEAN DE BONNOT tenant négoce de libraire à l’enseigne du canon. 1967.

Naylies, M. (de). Mémoires sur la Guerre d’Espagne, pendant les années 1808, 1809, 1810 et 1811. Paris, Chez Magimel, Anselin et Pochard. 1817.

Noël, Jean Nicolas Auguste (Colonel). Souvenirs militaires d’un officier du premier empire (1795-1832). Publié par Lucien Noël. Berger-Levrault et Cie, Paris, 1895. 

–––––––. Souvenirs militaires d’un officier du Premier Empire. Paris, À la Librairie des Deux Empires, 1999.

Pelet-Clozeau (Général). Mémoires sur ma campagne du Portugal (1810-1811). Édition établie par Christian Schneider. Éditions Historiques Teissèdre, Paris, 2003.

Peltier, Jean-Gabriel. La Campagne de Portugal, en 1810 et 1811; ouvrage imprimé à Londres, qu’il étoit défendu de laisser pénétrer en France, sous peine de mort; dans lequel les jactances de Bonaparte sont appréciées, ses mensonges dévoilés, son caractère peint au naturel, et sa chute prophétisée. Seconde édition. Paris, chez A. Eymery-Le Normant, 1814.

‎Péreuse, Bauyn (de). Campagne de Portugal (1810-1811). Souvenirs d’un lieutenant d’artillerie. Revue rétrospective, 1889, vol. X, pp. 1-25.

Rocca, Albert Jean Michel (De). Mémoires sur la guerre des français en Espagne; par M. (De) Rocca, officier de hussards et chevalier de l’ordre de la Légion d’Honneur. De l’Imprimerie de J. Gratiot. Paris, Gide Fils, Libraire, Rue Saint-Marc, N°. 20; H. Nicolle, à la Librairie Stéréotype, Rue de Seine, N°. 12. M. DCCC. XIV.

–––––––. Mémoires sur la guerre des français en Espagne. Genève: Imprimerie Jules-Guillaume Fick, 1886.  

–––––––. Mémoires sur la guerre des français en Espagne. Troisième édition. Genève: Cherbulliez, & P. Fischbacher, 1890.

Sarrazin, Jean. Histoire de la Guerre d’Espagne et de Portugal de 1807 à 1814 par M. Sarrazin, maréchal de camp, un des commandants de la Légion d’Honneur et ancien chef d’Etat-major du prince royal de Suède aux armées d’Allemagne et d’Italie. Ornée de la carte d’Espagne et de Portugal, où sont tracées les marches des armées française, anglaise et espagnole, dressée par M. Lapie. Paris: J. G. Dentu, imprimeur-libraire, rue du Pont de Lodi, n.° 9, près le Pont Neuf, 1814.

Sprünglin, Emmanuel-Frédéric (Colonel). Souvenirs des campagnes d’Espagne et de Portugal. Paris, Librairie Historique F. Teissèdre, 1998.

Secondary Publications

1. English works:

Andrews, T. J.. Massena’s Lines of March in Portugal and French Routes in Northern Spain. The English Historical Review. Oxford: University Press. Vol. 16, No. 63, Jul., 1901.

Chartrand, René. Bussaco 1810: Wellington defeats Napoleon’s Marshals. Campaign Series 97. Osprey Publishing Ltd., Oxford, 2001.

Esdaile, Charles. The Peninsular War. A New History. New York 2002.

–––––––. The Wars of Napoleon. London / New York 1995.

Gallaher, J. G.. Napoleon’s Irish Legion. Southern Illinois University Press, 1993.

Glover, Michael. The Peninsular War, 1807-14: a concise history. David & Charles, Newton Abbot; Archon Books, New York, 1974.

–––––––. The Napoleonic Wars: an illustrated history 1792-1815. Hippocrene Books, New York, 1979.

Horward, Donald D.. The Battle of Bussaco: Masséna vs. Wellington. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1965.

–––––––. Napoleon and Iberia: The Twin Sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida, 1810. Tallahassee: Florida State University Press, 1984.

–––––––. The French campaign in Portugal 1810-1811. An account by Jean Jacques Pelet. Edited, annotated, and translated by Donald D. Horward. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1973.

Marshall-Cornwall, James. Marshal Massena. Oxford University Press, 1965.

Napier, William Patrick (Major-General, Sir, K.C.B.). History of the War in the Peninsula and in the South of France, from the year 1807 to the year 1814. London: Thomas and William Boone, New Bond Street. MDCCCLXVII. Vol. III. Book XI.- Chap. 6., p. 17, l. 1-23.

Oman, Charles William Chadwick (Sir). A History of the Peninsular war. Oxford: The Claredon Press, 1902-1930. Vol. I: 1807-1809 (1902); Vol. II.: Jan. 1809-Sep. 1809 (1903); Vol. III: Sep. 1809-Dec. 1810 (1908); Vol. IV: Dec. 1810-Dec. 1811 (1911); Vol. V: Oct. 1811-Aug. 1812 (1914); Vol. VI: Sep. 1812-Aug. 1813 (1922); Vol. VII: Aug. 1813-Apr. 1814 (1930).

Trant, Nicholas. The Journal of Clarissa Trant 1800‑1832. Ed. by C. G. Luard, London, 1925.

2. French works

Audebaud, Christian. Le général baron Pelet-Clozeau. La science et la gloire. Préface de Roger Dufraisse. Éditions S.P.M., 1999.

Bonnal, Henri (Général). La vie militaire du maréchal Ney, duc d’Elchingen, prince de la Moskowa. Paris, Librairie militaire R. Chapelot et cie,  1910-14. 

Chartrand, René. Spanish Guerrillas in the Peninsular War 1808-14. Osprey Publishing (Elite), 2004.

Do Nascimento, Manuel. Troisième invasion napoléonienne au Portugal (Bicentenaire 1810-2010). L’Harmattan, 2010.   

Fieffé, Eugène. Histoire des troupes étrangères au service de la France depuis leur origine jusqu’à nos jours et de tous les régiments levés dans les pays conquis sous la première République et l’Empire. Par Eugène Fieffé, commis principal aux archives du ministère de la guerre. Paris, Librairie Militaire Dumaine, 1854.

Forrest, Alan. Déserteurs et insoumis sous la Révolution et l’Empire. Paris, Perrin, 1988.

Mullié, Charles. Biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 à 1850. Paris, Poignavant et Compagnie, 1852.

Vane, Charles William (marquis de Londonderry). Histoire de la Guerre de la Péninsule, (années 1808 et suivantes). Paris, Bossange, 1828.

3. Portuguese works

Bento Da Guia, A.. As vinte freguesias de Moimenta da Beira. Eden Gráfico, S.A., Viseu, 2001.

Costa, Fernandes. Memórias de um Ajudante de Campo, Crónica Pitoresca da Terceira Invasão Francesa. Tomo I. Lisboa, M. Gomes, Editor («Biblioteca Militar Ilustrada, vol.III»), 1896.

Luz Soriano, Simão José (da). História da Guerra Civil e do estabelecimento do governo parlamentar em Portugal comprehendendo a história diplomática militar e politica d’este reino desde 1777 até 1834. Lisbon: Imprensa Nacional, 1866-1890.

Peres, Damião António. História de Portugal.  Palestras na Emissora Nacional. Porto: Portucalense Editora, 1951-1952.

Ribeiro, Arthur.  A Legião Portugueza ao serviço de Napoleão (1808-1813). Lisboa, Livraria Ferin, 1901.

Tomás, Anibal Fernandes. Episódios da Terceira Invasão Francesa. Diário do General Manuel Inácio Martins Pamplona (Maio a Setembro de 1810). Figueira, Imprensa Lusitana, 1896.

Vincente, Antonio Pedro. Um Soldado da Guerra Peninsular - Bernardim Freire de Andrade e Castro. Boletim do Arquivo Histórico Militar, 40.º volume, 1970.

Vitoriano, José César. Invasões Francesas em Portugal. Tip. Cooperativa Militar, Lisboa, 1904-1910.

Vitoriano, José César. Batalha do Buçaco. Lisboa, Imprensa da Armada, 1930.

Vitorino, Pedro. Invasões Francesas (1807-1810). Liv. Figueirinhas, Porto, 1945.


[1] Id est in Portuguese idiom: inter-relacionados laços familiares.

[2] Significantly intended is a twofold consequential conceptualization that entailed the instabilidade politica (political instability) and the aggrieved perturbações sociais (social perturbations) that critically raged over all the country.

[3] Marbot (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935, p. 297, l. 29-34. From the primary documentary historic source, the original annotations are thus quoted: “Un sergent du 47e de ligne français, fatigué de la misère dans laquelle se trouvait l’armée, résolut de s’y soustraire pour vivre dans l’abondance. Pour cela, il débaucha une centaine de soldats des plus mauvais sujets, à la tête desquels il alla s’établir au loin, sur les derrières, dans un vaste couvent abandonné par les moines, mais encore bien pourvu de meubles et surtout de provisions de bouche, […]” [vide: Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Vol. II. Madrid – Essling – Torrés-Védras. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891, p. 418, l. 14-21].  

[4] Sergent, a word originated from the ancient Latin etymology; it is derived from the term serviens, correctly translated as the one who serves. However, this linguistic specification is quite limited by the fact that the NCO rank corresponded to the functional and subservient role of the optĭo.

[5] One would assume this man had been formally enrolled in the infantry arm.  Although his unit is mentioned (47e régiment d’infanterie de ligne), the chain of command (bataillon-compagnie; i.e., battalion, company) is not specifically reported. To probe deeper into his military status and participation, his role in the ranks was one of responsibility; a distinguished figure, interacting in a key position between his comrades under arms and the hierarchical superiors.   

[6] It is undeniably recognizable that requisitioning by both the contending parties (French, anti-French) equally aggravated the conditions. It was the act of surviving by one’s wits that oppressed the soldiers’ perilous lives and renewed the assaults on their psychological defences.

[7]Worth mentioning is that the sous-officier behaved by his own personal initiative, and not on imparted superior dispositions. His determined efforts were a notable mark of self-denial, which permitted the possibility of survival for his troops during a difficult and treacherous time.

[8]A largely significant verbal form.

The change in location for establishing a new military position meant quietly detaching his companions in adventure from the main corps and to avoid the security strong-points on ground, an action which could only be carried out in stealth (and not during daylight).

One question could be easily posed: what distance was established the position and the assumed camp-area of the independents? Indicative evidence appears it was not so distant from Massena’s headquarters. “He – Massena – selected the country between the Rio Mayor, the Tagus, and the Zezere, establishing the 2nd corps at Santarem, the 8th at Torres Novas (where also he fixed his headquarters), the 6th at Thomar, the artillery park at Tancos, while the cavalry were at Ourem with their outposts pushed as far as Leria” [vide: Marbot (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935, 1935, p. 296, l. 29-34]. Primary French source, original text: “Il choisit à cet effet l’espace compris entre le Rio-Major, le Tage, le Zezère, les villes de Santarem, Ourem et Leyria. Le 2e corps fut établi à Santarem, forte position dont la gauche est défendue par le Tage et le front par le Rio-Major. Le 8e corps occupa Torrès-Novas, Pernès et le bas du Monte-Junto. Le 6e corps fut placé à Thomar, le grand parc d’artillerie à Jancos et l’on cantonna la cavalerie à Ourem, poussant des avant-postes jusqu’à Leyria. Le maréchal Masséna fixa son quartier général à Torrès-Novas, point central de son armée” [vide: Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Vol. II. Madrid – Essling – Torrés-Védras. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891, p. 416, l. 22-31].  

[9] That was the residential site of a religious order. This perspective, through the theology of vocation, and consequently through the ecclesiology of communion, was a community location -- o mosteiro. It directly regarded the discerned acceptance for the vida consagradas (consecrated life).

[10]Os monges. Their actual and effective number is not specified in the text narrative.

[11]Marbot (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935, p. 297, l. 34; p. 298, l. 1-4. In the strict course of historic research, from the primary French source are expounded these authentic documentary annotations: “[…] qu’il augmenta infiniment, en s’emparant de tout ce qui était à sa convenance dans les environs. Dans sa cuisine, les broches et les marmites bien garnies étaient constamment devant le feu; chacun y prenait à volonté; aussi, tant par dérision que pour exprimer d’un seul mot le genre de vie qu’on menait chez lui, il se faisait nommer le maréchal Chaudron!” [vide: Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Vol. II. Madrid – Essling – Torrés-Védras. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891, p. 418, l. 21-27]. 

[12]Requisitions were achieved by force of arms and not through negotiated sales and legitimate payments.

[13]Marbot (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935, p. 298, l. 5-10. Textual extrapolation from the original French documentary: “Ce misérable ayant fait enlever une grande quantité de femmes et de filles, l’attrait de la débauche, de la paresse et de l’ivrognerie conduisant bientôt vers lui les déserteurs anglais, portugais et français, il parvint à former de l’écume des trois armées une bande de près de 500 hommes, qui, oubliant leurs anciennes rancunes, vivaient tous en très bonne harmonie, au milieu d’orgies perpétuelles” [vide: Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Vol. II. Madrid – Essling – Torrés-Védras. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891, p. 418, l. 28-34 ; p. 419, l. 1].  

[14]The women which were the prey of desire were then targeted by the troop, with no consideration for the status or sacred tie: single,  fiancée, or married.The small villages and country towns had no defence against the marauding troops in order to protect the feminine gender. The post-modern researcher could consider that the independent group had an inner organizational structure – and it cannot be excluded that it was in three partidas (id est, bands, groups of action), by hundred, and by nationality (English, French, Portuguese), most probably acting on the orders of their own chosen leaders (English, Portuguese). This was to prove a severe test and a tactical impasse because to aptly control the moves, responsibilities, and connivances of so many impetuous men created an ever growing burden of responsibility. 

“Stockpot” seemed not to have had that martial charisma with which to handle all the matters and dysfunctional “operatives”; at any rate, he succeeded in amalgamating the troop and gained major authority by controlling the source of nourishment and the provisions -- that was indeed an intelligent strategy quite different from the savagery and butchery which devastated the land.However, in acquiescing to the string of arbitrarily armed impositions on the country villagers was indeed a severe fault as well as a most shameful negligence, causing damage and harm to his authority and command. Thus being the case, his responsibilities were clear and manifest.

[15]Sic erat scriptum : “[...] he formed a band of some three hundred English, French, and Portuguese deserters [...]” [vide: Marbot, (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935, p. 298, l. 7-9]. In this case, an erratum of transcription – and printing – has occurred.

[16]The only accredited source is Marbot’s primary documentary source: “[…] une bande de près de 500 hommes, […]” [vide: Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Vol. II. Madrid – Essling – Torrés-Védras. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891, p. 418, l. 32-33].

[17]Marbot (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935, p. 298, l. 10-24. Original text, French documentary source: “Ce brigandage durait depuis quelques mois, lorsqu’un détachement de nos troupes, chargé de réunir des vivres devenus plus rares chaque jour, s’étant égaré à la poursuite d’un troupeau jusqu’au couvent qui servait de repaire au prétendu maréchal Chaudron, nos soldats furent très étonnés de voir celui-ci venir à leur rencontre à la tête de ses bandits et leur prescrire de respecter ses terres et de rendre le troupeau qu’ils venaient d’y prendre!... Sur le refus de nos officiers d’obtempérer à cet ordre, le maréchal Chaudron ordonna de faire feu sur le détachement. La plupart des déserteurs français n’osèrent tirer sur leurs compatriotes et anciens frères d’armes; mais les bandits anglais et portugais ayant obéi, nos gens eurent plusieurs hommes tués ou blessés, et n’étant pas assez nombreux pour résister, ils furent contraints de se retirer, suivis par tous les déserteurs français qui se joignirent à eux et vinrent faire leur soumission” [vide: Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Vol. II. Madrid – Essling – Torrés-Védras. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891, p. 419, l. 1-18].  

[18]Marbot (Baron de). Adventures of General Marbot. Edited and illustrated by John W. Thomason, Jr.. Charles Scribner’s Sons, New York, London, 1935, p. 298, l. 24-31. French documentary source: “Masséna leur pardonna, à condition qu’ils marcheraient en tête des trois bataillons destinés à aller attaquer le couvent. Ce repaire ayant été enlevé après une assez vive résistance, Masséna fit fusiller le maréchal Chaudron, ainsi que le petit nombre de Français restés auprès de lui. Beaucoup d’Anglais et de Portugais eurent le même sort, les autres furent envoyés à Wellington, qui en fit bonne et prompte justice” [vide: Marbot, Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcellin (Baron de). Mémoires du Général Baron de Marbot. Vol. II. Madrid – Essling – Torrés-Védras. Paris, Librairie Plon, E. Plon, Nourrit et Cie, Imprimeurs-Éditeurs, Rue Garancière, 10, 1891, p. 419, l. 18-25].   


Placed on the Napoleon Series: November 2008; updated October 2012


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