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The Napoleon Series > Biographies > Biographies

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Adolphe Edouard Casimir Joseph Mortier, Duc de Trévise, Marshal (1804)

(Born Le Cateau, Cambrésis, 1768 - Died Paris, 1835)


Mortier had already proved himself when he met Bonaparte. He was present at all the major battles at the close of the Empire.

Mortier enlisted in the National Guard at the start of the Revolution. The son of a cloth merchant, deputy to the Third-Estate, he served in the Army of the North with distinction during the battles of Jemappes (November 6, 1792) and Fleurus (June 26, 1794). He was named adjutant general and commander of the advance guard of the Army of Sambre and Meuse, participating in the Battle of Alterkirchen (June 4, 1796). He refused the rank of brigadier general in 1797, but finally accepted it in 1799. That same year he served in the Army of Helvetia, under the orders of Soult, fighting in the Battle of Zurich (September 25-26, 1799). His actions earned him a recommendation from Masséna, and he was confirmed as general in October.

Mortier was assigned to the army sent to conquer Hanover in 1803; he occupied and kept order in the entire country. On his return to Paris, he was named colonel general of the Consular Guard and marshal in 1804. The next year, he headed the infantry of the Imperial Guard. He distinguished himself at Dürnstein (November 11, 1805) where he and his 4,000 men stood up to 30,000 Russians. He also fought at Austerlitz (December 2, 1805).

The Prussian campaign, and the conquest of Hesse and Hanover followed. Mortier showed leniency while in the occupied country. He headed the left wing at Friedland on June 14, 1807. After the signature of the treaty, he was named governor of Silesia and Duc de Trévise, a title accompanied with a pension.

He served in Spain in 1808, fighting in the siege of Saragossa at the head of the 5th corps and defeated the Spaniards at Ocaña on November 18, 1809 and at Gebora, on February 19, 1811. He then participated in the Russian campaign, in 1812, at the head of the Young Guard. Governor of Moscow under the French occupation, he was order to blow up the Kremlin after the departure of the French troops. He merely destroyed the arsenal and the army barracks. As the French retreated, he fought in the battle of Krasnoë (November 17, 1812) and crossed the Berezina (November 27-28, 1812).

At Frankfurt-on-Oder, he re-formed the Young Guard, the command of which he held for the next two years. Mortier was present at all the major battles; first of all, in Germany : Lützen (May 2, 1813); Bautzen (May 20-21, 1813); Dresden (August 25-26, 1813); Leipzig (October 16-19, 1813); then in France: Montmirail (February 11, 1814); Laon (March 9 and 10, 1814); and finally Paris (March 31, 1814), where he surrendered only after learning of Marmont's defection on April 8.

During Napoleon's first abdication, Mortier, now extremely wealthy, rallied to Louis XVIII, who made him chevalier de Saint-Louis and peer of France. When Napoleon returned, he supported him, though not enthusiastically. He was ill and did not participate in the campaign of Waterloo. He agreed to join those who would try Ney. The jury declared itself incompetent and Louis XVIII disgraced its members.

Mortier was nevertheless named deputy and recovered all his glorious titles after 1830. He served briefly as ambassador to Russia, and Minister of War for an even shorter period. On July 28, 1835, during a National Guard parade, he was killed in the assassination attempt on Louis Philippe when a bomb exploded.

By Artea


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