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fleet, and landed at Alexandria, and, from the same reasons we have before mentioned, we will not delay with the events of the campaign, but merely select an illustrative anecdote here and there. Thus, for instance, after the battle of the Pyramids, a great number of Mamluks were drowned, and the soldiers, aware of the custom among them of carrying all their property about their person, were quite in despair at the loss they had suffered. A Gascon soldier of the 32nd, however, contrived an expedient. He bent his bayonet into a hook, and, fastening it to a rope, dragged the river. His example was speedily followed, and the reward was ample ; for many soldiers deposited more than 30,000 francs in the regimental chest.
The marshal makes a lame attempt to justify Bonaparte for poisoning the sick men on the retreat, and the massacre of the prisoners taken at Jaffa, but his arguments do not convince us. There is no doubt that they were barbarous measures, and left a deep stain on Napoleon's character. The argument of reciprocity may be very good in war, but supposing that our generals had taken advantage of the brutality of the Russian major, who, after the battle of Inkerman, killed the wounded on the field, a just cry
of execration would have been raised through the whole of Europe. We are glad, however, to find that the marshal does not attempt to deny the black business, as many French writers have done; and though we must still deplore it, we may be allowed to ascribe it to error of judgment.
For a long while Bonaparte had received no news from Europe, and it was only by flattering the vanity of General Sidney Smith that he succeeded in procuring a file of papers. The news he found in them decided him on his immediate return. But Marmont must share his fortune, whether good or evil. He sent for him, and said: Marmont, I have decided on returning to France, and I intend to take you
The state of things in Europe forces me to form this great decision. Misfortunes are oppressing our armies, and God knows how far the enemy, may have penetrated. Italy is lost, and the reward of so many efforts, of so much bloodshed, is escaping us. What can be expected from incapables placed at the head of affairs ? All is ignorance, stupidity, or corruption with them. It was I alone who supported this burden, and through continual successes gave consistency to the government, which, without me, could never have been established. In my absence all must necessarily collapse. But we must not wait till the destruction becomes complete: the misfortune would be irremediable. The passage to France will be dangerous and hazardous; but it is less so than our voyage here, and that fortune which has sustained me till now will not abandon me at this moment. Besides, a man must know how to run a risk at the right moment. He who never ventures, never gains. I will entrust the army to capable hands. I leave
it in a good condition, and after a victory which adjourns to an indefinite period the moment when fresh enterprises will be formed against it. The destruction of the Turkish army and my return will be heard of at the same moment in France. My presence, by exalting their minds, will restore to the army that confidence which it wants, and to good citizens the hope of a better future. There will be a change of opinion greatly to the profit of France. We must try to get home, and we shall succeed.
We all know the miraculous escape which Bonaparte experienced, and his return to France fully justified his expectations. He found it necessary to overthrow the Constituent Assembly, and the 18th Brumaire con
solidated his power. Marmont throws no new light on this affair, except: as to his personal share, which was what might be expected from a young and ardent partisan, who blindly followed the commands of his chief
. No scruples embarrassed him as to the future fate of his country; what Napoleon said was law with him, and he was the blind instrument whom the . Dictator required for the furtherance of his plans. Not that we blame Napoleon for a moment that he took such measures; the Cromwell of his age was quite justified in employing his purge, and it has been a blessing for France that he liberated her from the tyranny of the many if only to substitute the tyranny of the one. That the nation regarded the affair in this light is evidenced by the fact that the five per
cents., which had been down at seven, rose in a few days to thirty francs. After Napoleon had purified the state from some portion of its faults, it was found necessary to borrow money, that the state machine might be kept rolling Marmont was selected to go to Holland and effect a loan, but he failed through the modesty of his request. He only asked for 500,0001., and was weak enough to offer security. Of course the Dutchmen spurned such a proposal, and they even turned up their snub noses at the diamond, “Le Regent,” which the commissioner offered to pledge as collateral security. Had it been a sanspareil tulip, perhaps he might have met with a better fate. But, suppose Napoleon were to revisit the glimpses of the moon, he would hardly recognise the country he once lorded over. Pereires and Mirès are now the lords of the ascendant, and lend money to impoverished states, and take pledges not half so valuable as the Pitt diamond for security.
Again, the war in Italy broke out, and Marmont was placed at the head of the artillery. The passage of the St. Bernard was effected by taking the guns off their limbers and encasing them in hollow willowtrees, by means of which they were dragged over the mountains. The limbers were taken to pieces and transported on the backs of horses. But when all this had been effected, a little mountain fort called Bard appeared to afford insurmountable obstacles to the progress of the army. But even this Marmont's genius was enabled to overcome :
Lannes had gone to meet the enemy. Cannon and ammunition were absolutely necessary for him, and must be provided. I formed the boldest and most audacious design, (!!) and I immediately put it in execution, with the permission of the First Consul ; I attempted to pass the artillery along the main road by night in spite of the proximity of the fort. I commenced my experiments with six guns and six limbers
, by taking the following precautions : I covered the wheels, chains, and all the ringing parts of the carriage with twisted hay, spread along the road dung and all the mattresses to be found in the village, and substituted fifty men for the horses, for these might have been heard ; a horse if killed would have stopped the whole expedition, while men made no noise, and if killed or wounded, as they were not attached to the carriage, they would not stop the. progress.
This plan was eminently successful; the six guns were safely carried through, and the experiment was tried again. The average loss, after the garrison detected the plan, was five to six to each gun-carriage, but that was nothing compared with the possible glory. However, the fort
. was taken soon after, and the army proceeded into Italy to fight the cele. brated battle of Marengo, on which the marshal throws a new light, while calmly attributing the entire success to himself :
The space contained between the Bormida, the Fontana Nuova, and Marengo formed the battle-field. Victor, with his two divisions and Kellerman's cavalry, was entrusted with the defence of the first part, beyond and including the village of Marengo; the farm known by the name of Stortigliano, between the Bormida and the stream, was a solid point of this line. Lannes, with the divisions Mounier and Watrin, and General Champeaux's cavalry, had to defend the second part, or the stream of Marengo ; thus our line was in a square, and formed almost a right angle at its centre, the village of Marengo. A brigade of Mounier's division, commanded by General Carra St. Cyr, was ordered to occupy and defend the village of Castel Cerriolo, at our extreme right; it was supported by General Champeaux's cavalry. General Revaud's cavalry brigade, encamped at Salo, appeared to have been forgotten, and received no orders during the whole morning.
The enemy attacked simultaneously Marengo, and all the space enclosed between the village and the Bormida, as well as the farm of Stortigliano ; but it took place slowly and calmly. A single vigorous stroke would have decided the question and ensured the fate of the day. Victor resisted for a long time, and during several hours repulsed all their attacks. Lannes came up; the enemy tried to turn his right flank by crossing the ditch lower down. Castel Cerriolo having been taken, Lannes, to cover his right, was obliged to bring up his reserves; he retook the village, but soon lost it again.
The stream in front of the French army had been a great obstacle to the deployment of the enemy. No preparations had been made for crossing it, and they were for a long time confined in the narrow limits whence they could not emerge, but at last they succeeded. On the other side, they carried the farm of Stortigliano, turned our left flank, and this part of the French army was in extreme disorder. Our troops then gave up the defences of the French, fell back on Marengo, and finding themselves menaced on both flanks, evacuated the village, and commenced their retreat, which was effected slowly and in good order; they fell back in the direction of San Juliano, marching parallel to the main road. This murderous conflict had reduced the battalions to one-fourth their strength. The artillery had met with a marvellous success; but overpowered by the weight of the enemy's fire, nearly all our guns had been dismounted, and only five were left in a serviceable condition.
The 72nd half-brigade of Mounier's division behaved admirably at the period of this retreat; formed in squares on the level plain, and charged by a heavy body of cavalry, by which it was entirely surrounded, it displayed no sign of fear; the two first ranks fired to the front, while the third wheeled round and fired in the rear; and the enemy's cavalry retired without having broken the line.
It was near on five o'clock, and Boudet's division, on which our safety and our hopes depended, had not arrived. At last it came up. General Desaix preceded it by a few moments, and went to the First Consul. He found the affair in this awkward state, and did not appear disposed to forebode success. A sort of mounted council of war was held, at which I was present; he said to the First Consul, “We want a good battery to startle the enemy, before attempting a fresh charge; without this, it will not succeed; that is the way battles are lost. We want a good round of artillery.”
I told him I was about to establish a battery with the five uninjured guns; by joining to these five guns from the Scrivia, which had just come up, and the eight pieces of his division, I should have a battery of eighteen guns. Very good,” Desaix said to me, “my dear Marmont, guns, guns, and put them to the best possible use.” The eighteen guns were soon placed in position. They occupied the half of the right front of the army, so much was that front reduced. The guns on the left went to the right of the San Juliano road. A lively and sudden fire caused the enemy to hesitate and then stop. During this time the Boudet division formed, partly in columns of attack in division, and partly deployed. When the moment had arrived, the First Consul galloped
along the lines, and electrified them by his presence and a few words ; after twenty minutes' brisk firing, the army prepared to advance. My battery was soon outstripped, and I gave orders to follow the movement. I commanded my men to wheel round and follow, but had great difficulty in effecting it, for the gunners still continued to fire between the gaps in our small battalions. At length the general movement had been carried out by the divisions, and I had reached the left of the position, where there were three guns, two eight-pounders and a howitzer, served by the gunners of the Consul's Guard; by means of threats I set them in motion, and the horses were attached to the prolong. to wheel about, when suddenly I saw the 30th half-brigade before me in utter disorder. I immediately put my three guns in position and loaded them with canister; but I waited before I fired. I perceived, about fifty paces from the 30th, in the midst of a dense smoke and dust, a column in good order ; at first I thought it French, but I soon saw it was the head of a heavy column of Austrian grenadiers. We had the time to fire at them four rounds of canister from our three guns, and immediately after, Kellerman, with 400 sabres-the relic of his brigade— flew past my battery, and made a vigorous charge on the left flank of the enemy's column, which laid down its arms. Had the charge been made three minutes later, our guns would have been taken or withdrawn. Had it not been for my firing, the enemy would probably have been prepared for the cavalry charge.
So Marmont won the battle of Marengo. I thas generally been supposed that Desaix was the hero of the day; but we were mistaken. We must even resign those beautiful words which Desaix is popularly supposed to have uttered on receiving his death-blow, for he was shot through the heart, and fell without saying a word. We are afraid that the same disillusion may be true about many generals who have died with heroic sentiments on their lips.
The marshal has a very happy talent of sketching a man's character in one short, pregnant sentence. What can be better, for instance, than this anecdote of Savary, who had been in a measure adopted by Desaix, and owed him everything ? On the day of the battle he had asked Marmont where he could find Kellerman, and the next day he said, “ It took place while I was talking to you. When I returned and found him dead, you can imagine what my feelings must have been; and
; I said to myself immediately, Whatever will become of me?"
Marmont was sent home after the battle to deliver over the captured flags, but soon returned to the army of Italy, which was now placed under the command of General Brune, whom Marmont describes as utterly incapable. He had been originally a printer, formed the Cordeliers Club, and so became intimate with Danton. Through this he was appointed general of a revolutionary army. On returning to Paris he was engaged in the business of the 13th Vendémiaire, and formed an acquaintance with Bonaparte, who took a great fancy to him, for no other reason, probably, than the effect always produced on him by tall persons. After serving some time in Holland, he was selected to take Masséna's place at the head of the army of Italy. An unsatisfactory campaign terminated with an armistice, and the destruction of several strong places in Italy and the fortifications of Alexandria as the key of the country
Davoust commanded the cavalry of the army of Italy, and Marmont thus had opportunity of forming an opinion of his character, which is, as usual, unfavourable.
Davoust constituted himself the spy of the emperor, and made daily reports to him. He took advantage of private conversations to denounce his friends, and many a
ruined man was ignorant for a long time of the cause of his disgrace. Davoust had some degree of probity; but the emperor, by his gifts, so surpassed the limits of his possible wants, that he would have been most culpable had he enriched himself by illicit means. His income reached the enormous sum of 1,500,000 francs. Fond of discipline, and providing carefully for the wants of his troops, he was just, but harsh to his officers, and was not loved by them. He did not want for courage; and while possessing but slight abilities and education, he displayed immense perseverance, great zeal, and feared neither suffering nor fatigue. Of a ferocious character, on the slightest pretext and without any ceremony, he hung up the inhabitants of conquered countries. I saw, in the environs of Vienna and Presbourg, the roads and trees furnished with his victims.
We will throw in one more anecdote for the due appreciation of Davoust's character :
In his expressions he would give the most exaggerated notions of his devotion to the emperor. Thus, in a conversation I had with him at Vienna, in 1809, we were talking on this subject, when Davoust declared his devotion was superior to that of all others. Certainly,” he said, “it is believed with reason that Maret is devoted to the emperor, but not to the same extent as myself. If the emperor were to say to both of us, 'It is important to my policy that Paris should be destroyed without a single person escaping,' Maret would keep the secret, I am sure, but he would not refrain from compromising it by aiding his family to escape ; while I, through fear of letting the secret ooze out, would leave my wife and children there.” Such was Davoust.
During the Italian campaign Marmont had paid special attention to the state of the artillery, and drew up a report on his return to Paris, with which the First Consul was so satisfied that he appointed him inspector-general of the artillery,-an unexampled thing for a man only eight-and-twenty years of age. In his new post he worked very hard, and soon brought the artillery to a satisfactory condition. While engaged in these affairs, the King of England thought proper to pick a quarrel à l'allemande, which Bonaparte could not stomach. War was declared, and the great army of England was put on the coast, whence it could enjoy, on a fine day, the white cliffs of perfidious Albion. At this period, Fulton offered the First Consul his scheme of steam navigation, but was treated as a charlatan, in spite of Marmont's remonstrances. Many discussions have been raised whether Bonaparte seriously intended to invade England; but Marmont answers decidedly in the affirmative. This expedition was the most ardent desire of his life, and his dearest hope. But he had no intention of carrying it out in a hazardous manner; he wished to be master of the sea, and under the protection of a good squadron ; and he proved that, in spite of the numerical inferiority of his
navy, he could execute it. The pretence of employing the flotilla to fight, was only a means to distract the enemy's attention, and cause him to lose sight of the real project, but, really, his flotilla was only intended for the transport of the army; it was the bridge destined to serve for the passage; the embarkation and debarkation could be effected in a few hours, and the only thing demanding time would be leaving the port, which would require two tides. Unfortunately, Villeneuve spoiled all the carefully arranged combinations, and England was saved from becoming a French prefecture.