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Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida







Life Of Napoleon Bonaparte With A Sketch Of Josephine

Book:        Life Of Napoleon

Author:      Tarbell, Ida


Chapter IV.


The First Italian Campaign - Napoleon's Way Of Making War


     But Napoleon had much to occupy him besides his separation from

Josephine.  Extraordinary difficulties surrounded his new post.  Neither

the generals nor the men knew anything of their new commander.  "Who is

this General Bonaparte?  Where has he served?  No one knows anything about

him," wrote Junot's father when the latter at Toulon decided to follow his

artillery commander.


     In the Army of Italy they were asking the same questions, and the

Directory could only answer as Junot had done: "As far as I can judge, he

is one of those men of whom nature is avaricious, and that she permits

upon the earth only from age to age."


     He was to replace a commander-in-chief who had sneered at his plans

for an Italian campaign and who might be expected to put obstacles in his

way.  He was to take an army which was in the last stages of poverty and

discouragement.  Their garments were in rags.  Even the officers were so

nearly shoeless that when they reached Milan and one of them was invited

to dine at the palace of a marquise, he was obliged to go in shoes without

soles and tied on by cords carefully blacked.  They had provisions for

only a month, and half rations at that.  The Piedmontese called them the

"rag heroes."


     Worse than their poverty was their inactivity.  "For three years they

had fired off their guns in Italy only because war was going on, and not

for any especial object - only to satisfy their consciences." Discontent

was such that counter-revolution gained ground daily.  One company had

even taken the name of "Dauphin," and royalist songs were heard in camp.


     Napoleon saw at a glance all these difficulties, and set himself to

conquer them.  With his generals he was reserved and severe.  "It was

necessary," he explained afterward, "in order to command men so much older

than myself." His look and bearing quelled insubordination, restrained

familiarity, even inspired fear.  "From his arrival," says Marmont, "his

attitude was that of a man born for power.  It was plain to the least

clairvoyant eyes that he knew how to compel obedience, and scarcely was he

in authority before the line of a celebrated poet might have been applied

to him:


     "'Des egaux?  des longtemps Mahomet n'en a plus.'"


     General Decres, who had known Napoleon well at Paris, hearing that he

was going to pass through Toulon, where he was stationed, offered to

present his comrades.  "I run," he says, "full of eagerness and joy; the

salon opens; I am about to spring forward, when the attitude, the look,

the sound of his voice are sufficient to stop me.  There was nothing rude

about him, but it was enough.  From that time I was never tempted to pass

the line which had been drawn for me."


     Lavalette says of his first interview with him: "He looked weak, but

his regard was so firm and so fixed that I felt myself turning pale when

he spoke to me." Augereau goes to see him at Albenga, full of contempt for

this favorite of Barras who has never known an action, determined on

insubordination.  Bonaparte comes out, little, thin, round-shouldered, and

gives Augereau, a giant among the generals, his orders.  The big man backs

out in a kind of terror.  "He frightened me," he tells Massena.  "His

first glance crushed me."


     He quelled insubordination in the ranks by quick, severe punishment,

but it was not long that he had insubordination.  The army asked nothing

but to act, and immediately they saw that they were to move.  He had

reached his post on March 22d; nineteen days later operations began.


     The theatre of action was along that portion of the maritime Alps

which runs parallel with the sea.  Bonaparte held the coast and the

mountains; and north, in the foot-hills, stretched from the Tende to

Genoa, were the Austrians and their Sardinian allies.  If the French were

fully ten thousand inferior in number, their position was the stronger,

for the enemy was scattered in a hilly country where it was difficult to

unite their divisions.


     As Bonaparte faced his enemy, it was with a youthful zest and

anticipation which explains much of what follows.  "The two armies are in

motion," he wrote Josephine, "each trying to outwit the other.  The more

skilful will succeed.  I am much pleased with Beaulieu.  He manoeuvres

very well, and is superior to his predecessor.  I shall beat him, I hope,

out of his boots."


     The first step in the campaign was a skilful stratagem.  He spread

rumors which made Beaulieu suspect that he intended marching on Genoa, and

he threw out his lines in that direction.  The Austrian took the feint as

a genuine movement, and marched his left to the sea to cut off the French

advance.  But Bonaparte was not marching to Genoa, and, rapidly collecting

his forces, he fell on the Austrian army at Montenotte on April 12th, and

defeated it.  The right and left of the allies were divided, and the

centre broken.


     By a series of clever feints, Bonaparte prevented the various

divisions of the enemy from reenforcing each other, and forced them

separately to battle.  At Millesimo, on the 14th, he defeated one section;

on the same day, at Dego, another; the next morning, near Dego, another.

The Austrians were now driven back, but their Sardinian allies were still

at Ceva.  To them Bonaparte now turned, and, driving them from their camp,

defeated them at Mondovi on the 22d.


     It was phenomenal in Italy.  In ten days the "rag heroes," at whom

they had been mocking for three years, had defeated two well-fed armies

ten thousand stronger than themselves, and might at any moment march on

Turin.  The Sardinians sued for peace.


     The victory was as bewildering to the French as it was terrifying to

the enemy, and Napoleon used it to stir his army to new conquests.


     "Soldiers!" he said, "in fifteen days you have gained six victories,

taken twenty-one stands of colors, fifty-five pieces of cannon, and

several fortresses, and conquered the richest part of Piedmont.  You have

made fifteen hundred prisoners, and killed or wounded ten thousand men.


     "Hitherto, however, you have been fighting for barren rocks, made

memorable by your valor, but useless to the nation.  Your exploits now

equal those of the conquering armies of Holland and the Rhine.  You were

utterly destitute, and have supplied all your wants.  You have gained

battles without cannons, passed rivers without bridges, performed forced

marches without shoes, bivouacked without brandy, and often without bread.

None but republican phalanxes - soldiers of liberty - could have borne

what you have endured.  For this you have the thanks of your country.


     "The two armies which lately attacked you in full confidence, now fly

before you in consternation. . . . But, soldiers, it must not be concealed

that you have done nothing, since there remains aught to do.  Neither

Turin nor Milan is ours. . . . The greatest difficulties are no doubt

surmounted; but you have still battles to fight, towns to take, rivers to

cross. . . ."


     Not less clever in diplomacy than in battle, Bonaparte, on his own

responsibility, concluded an armistice with the Sardinians, which left him

only the Austrians to fight, and at once set out to follow Beaulieu, who

had fled beyond the Po.


     As adroitly as he had made Beaulieu believe, three weeks before, that

he was going to march on Genoa, he now deceives him as to the point where

he proposes to cross the Po, leading him to believe it is at Valenza.

When certain that Beaulieu had his eye on that point, Bonaparte marched

rapidly down the river, and crossed at Placentia.  If an unforeseen delay

had not occurred in the passage, he would have been on the Austrian rear.

As it was, Beaulieu took alarm, and withdrew the body of his army, after a

slight resistance to the French advance, across the Adda, leaving but

twelve thousand men at Lodi.


     Bonaparte was jubilant.  "We have crossed the Po," he wrote the

directory.  "The second campaign has commenced.  Beaulieu is disconcerted;

he miscalculates, and continually falls into the snares I set for him.

Perhaps he wishes to give battle, for he has both audacity and energy, but

not genius. . . . Another victory, and we shall be masters of Italy."


     Determined to leave no enemies behind him, Bonaparte now marched

against the twelve thousand men at Lodi.  The town, lying on the right

bank of the Adda, was guarded by a small force of Austrians; but the mass

of the enemy was on the left bank, at the end of a bridge some three

hundred and fifty feet in length, and commanded by a score or more of



     Rushing into the town on May 10th the French drove out the guarding

force, and arrived at the bridge before the Austrians had time to destroy

it.  The French grenadiers pressed forward in a solid mass, but, when half

way over, the cannon at the opposite end poured such a storm of shot at

them that the column wavered and fell back.  Several generals in the

ranks, Bonaparte at their head, rushed to the front of the force.  The

presence of the officers was enough to inspire the soldiers, and they

swept across the bridge with such impetuosity that the Austrian line on

the opposite bank allowed its batteries to be taken, and in a few moments

was in retreat.  "Of all the actions in which the soldiers under my

command have been engaged," wrote Bonaparte to the Directory, "none has

equalled the tremendous passage of the bridge at Lodi.  If we have lost

but few soldiers, it was merely owing to the promptitude of our attacks

and the effect produced on the enemy by the formidable fire from our

invincible army.  Were I to name all the officers who distinguished

themselves in this affair, I should be obliged to enumerate every

carabinier of the advanced guard, and almost every officer belonging to

the staff."


     The Austrians now withdrew beyond the Mincio, and on the 15th of May

the French entered Milan.  The populace greeted their conquerors as

liberators, and for several days the army rejoiced in comforts which it

had not known for years.  While it was being feted, Bonaparte was

instituting the Lombard Republic, and trying to conciliate or outwit, as

the case demanded, the nobles and clergy outraged at the introduction of

French ideas.  It was not until the end of May that Lombardy was in a

situation to permit Bonaparte to follow the Austrians.


     After Lodi, Beaulieu had led his army to the Mincio.  As usual, his

force was divided, the right being near Lake Garda, the left at Mantua,

the centre about halfway between, at Valeggio.  It was at this latter

point that Bonaparte decided to attack them.  Feigning to march on their

right, he waited until his opponent had fallen into his trap, and then

sprang on the weakened centre, broke it to pieces, and drove all but

twelve thousand men, escaped to Mantua, into the Tyrol.  In fifty days he

had swept all but a remnant of the Austrians away from Italy.  Two weeks

later, having taken a strong position on the Adige, he began the siege of



     The French were victorious, but their position was precarious.

Austria was preparing a new army.  Between the victors and France lay a

number of feeble Italian governments whose friendship could not be

depended upon.  The populace of these states favored the French, for they

brought promises of liberal government, of equality and fraternity.  The

nobles and clergy hated them for the same reason.  It was evident that a

victory of the Austrians would set all these petty princes on Bonaparte's

heels.  The Papal States to the south were plotting.  Naples was an ally

of Austria.  Venice was neutral, but she could not be trusted.  The

English were off the coast, and might, at any moment, make an alliance

which would place a formidable enemy on the French rear.


     While waiting for the arrival of the new Austrian army, Bonaparte set

himself to lessening these dangers.  He concluded a peace with Naples.

Two divisions of the army were sent south, one to Bologna, the other into

Tuscany.  The people received the French with such joy that Rome was glad

to purchase peace.  Leghorn was taken.  The malcontents in Milan were

silenced.  By the time a fresh Austrian army of sixty thousand men, under

a new general, Wurmser, was ready to fight, Italy had been effectually



     The Austrians advanced against the French in three columns, one to

the west of Lake Garda, under Quasdanovich, one on each side of the Adige,

east of the lake, under Wurmser.  Their plan was to attack the French

outposts on each side of the lake simultaneously, and then envelop the

army.  The first movements were successful.  The French on each side of

the lake were driven back.  Bonaparte's army was inferior to the one

coming against him, but the skill with which he handled his forces and

used the blunders of the enemy more than compensated for lack of numbers.

Raising the siege of Mantua, he concentrated his forces at the south of

the lake in such a way as to prevent the reunion of the Austrians.  Then,

with unparalleled swiftness, he fell on the enemy piecemeal.  Wherever he

could engage a division he did so, providing his own force was superior to

that of the Austrians at the moment of the battle.  Thus, on July 31st, at

Lonato, he defeated Quasdanovich, though not so decisively but that the

Austrian collected his division and returned towards the same place,

hoping to unite there with Wurmser, who had foolishly divided his

divisions, sending one to Lonato and another to Castiglione, while he

himself went off to Mantua to relieve the garrison there, Bonaparte

engaged the forces at Lonato and at Castiglione on the same day (August

3d), defeating them both, and then turned his whole army against the body

of Austrians under Wurmser, who, by his time, had returned from his relief

expedition at Mantua.  On August 5th, at Castiglione, Wurmser was beaten,

driven over the Mincio and into the Tyrol.  In six days the campaign has

been finished.  "The Austrian army has vanished like a dream," Bonaparte

wrote home.


     It had vanished, true, but only for a day.  Reenforcements were soon

sent, and a new campaign started early in September.  Leaving Davidovich

in the Tyrol with twenty thousand men, Wurmser started down the Brenta

with twenty-six thousand men, intending to fall on Bonaparte's rear, cut

him to pieces, and relieve Mantua.  But Bonaparte had a plan of his own

this time, and, without waiting to find out where Wurmser was going, he

started up the Adige, intending to attack the Austrians in the Tyrol, and

join the army of the Rhine, then on the upper Danube.  As it happened,

Wurmser's plan was a happy one for Bonaparte.  The French found less than

half the Austrian army opposing them, and, after they had beaten it,

discovered that they were actually on the rear of the other half.  Of

course Bonaparte did not lose the opportunity.  He sped down the Brenta

behind Wurmser, overtook him at Bassano on the 8th of September, and of

course defeated him.  The Austrians fled in terrible demoralization.

Wurmser succeeded in reaching Mantua, where he united with the garrison.

The sturdy old Austrian had the courage, in spite of his losses, to come

out of Mantua and meet Bonaparte on the 15th, but he was defeated again,

and obliged to take refuge in the fortress.  If the Austrians had been

beaten repeatedly, they had no idea of yielding, and, in fact, there was

apparently every reason to continue the struggle.  The French army was in

a most desperate condition.  Its number was reduced to barely forty

thousand, and this number was poorly supplied, and many of them were ill.

Though living in the richest of countries, the rapacity and dishonesty of

the army contractors were such that food reached the men half spoiled and

in insufficient quantities, while the clothing supplied was pure shoddy.

Many officers were laid up by wounds or fatigue; those who remained at

their posts were discouraged, and threatening to resign.  The Directory

had tampered with Bonaparte's armistices and treaties until Naples and

Rome were ready to spring upon the French; and Venice, if not openly

hostile, was irritating the army in many ways.


     Bonaparte, in face of these difficulties, was in genuine despair:


     "Everything is being spoiled in Italy," he wrote the Directory.  "The

prestige of our forces is being lost.  A policy which will give you

friends among the princes as well as among the people, is necessary.

Diminish your enemies.  The influence of Rome is beyond calculation.  It

was a great mistake to quarrel with that power.  Had I been consulted I

should have delayed negotiations as I did with Genoa and Venice.  Whenever

your general in Italy is not the centre of everything, you will run great

risks.  This language is not that of ambition; I have only too many

honors, and my health is so impaired that I think I shall be forced to

demand a successor.  I can no longer get on horse-back.  My courage alone

remains, and that is not sufficient in a position like this."


     It was in such a situation that Bonaparte saw the Austrian force

outside of Mantua, increased to fifty thousand men, and a new commander-

in-chief, Alvinzi, put at its head.  The Austrians advanced in two

divisions, one down the Adige, the other by the Brenta.  The French

division which met the enemy at Trent and Bassano were driven back.  In

spite of his best efforts, Bonaparte was obliged to retire with his main

army to Verona.  Things looked serious.  Alvinzi was pressing close to

Verona, and the army on the Adige was slowly driving back the French

division sent to hold it in check.  If Davidovich and Alvinzi united,

Bonaparte was lost.


     "Perhaps we are on the point of losing Italy," wrote Bonaparte to the

Directory.  "In a few days we shall make a last effort." On November 14th

this last effort was made.  Alvinzi was close upon Verona, holding a

position shut in by rivers and mountains on every side, and from which

there was but one exit, a narrow pass at his rear.  The French were in



     On the night of the 14th of November Bonaparte went quietly into

camp.  Early in the evening he gave orders to leave Verona, and took the

road westward.  It looked like a retreat.  The French army believed it to

be so, and began to say sorrowfully among themselves that Italy was lost.

When far enough from Verona to escape the attention of the enemy,

Bonaparte wheeled to the southeast.  On the morning of the 15th he crossed

the Adige, intending, if possible, to reach the defile by which alone

Alvinzi could escape from his position.  The country into which his army

marched was a morass crossed by two causeways.  The points which it was

necessary to take to command the defile were the town of Arcola and a

bridge over the rapid stream on which the town day.  The Austrians

discovered the plan, and hastened out to dispute Arcola and the bridge.

All day long the two armies fought desperately, Bonaparte and his generals

putting themselves at the head of their columns and doing the work of

common soldiers.  But at night Arcola was not taken, and the French

retired to the right bank of the Adige, only to return on the 16th to

reengage Alvinzi, who, fearful lest his retreat be cut off, had withdrawn

his army from near Verona, and had taken a position at Arcola.  For two

days the French struggled with the Austrians, wrenching the victory from

them before the close of the 17th, and sending them flying towards

Bassano.  Bonaparte and his army returned to Verona, but this time it was

by the gate which the Austrians, three days before, were pointing out as

the place where they should enter.


     It was a month and a half before the Austrians could collect a fifth

army to send against the French.  Bonaparte, tormented on every side by

threatened uprisings in Italy; opposed by the Directory, who wanted to

make peace; and distressed by the condition of his army, worked

incessantly to strengthen his relations, quiet his enemies, and restore

his army.  When the Austrians, some forty-five thousand strong, advanced

in January, 1797, against him, he had a force of about thirty-five

thousand men ready to meet them.  Some ten thousand of his army were

watching Wurmser and twenty thousand Austrians shut up at Mantua.


     Alvinzi had planned his attack skilfully.  Advancing with twenty-

eight thousand men by the Adige, he sent seventeen thousand under Provera

to approach Verona from the east.  The two divisions were to approach

secretly, and to strike simultaneously.


     At first Bonaparte was uncertain of the position of the main body of

the enemy.  Sending out feelers in every direction, he became convinced

that it must be that it approached Rivoli.  Leaving a force at Verona to

hold back Provera, he concentrated his army in a single night on the

plateau of Rivoli, and on the morning of January 14th advanced to the

attack.  The struggle at Rivoli lasted two days.  Nothing but Bonaparte's

masterly tactics won it, for the odds were greatly against him.  His

victory, however, was complete.  Of the twenty-eight thousand Austrians

brought to the field, less than half escaped.


     While his battle was waging, Bonaparte was also directing the fight

with Provera, who was intent upon reaching Mantua and attacking the French

besiegers on the rear, while Wurmser left the city and engaged them in

front.  The attack had begun, but Bonaparte had foreseen the move, and

sent a division to the relief of his men.  This battle, known as La

Favorita, destroyed Provera's division of the Austrian army, and so

discouraged Wurmser, whose army was terribly reduced by sickness and

starvation, that the he surrendered on February 2d.


     The Austrians were driven utterly from Italy, but Bonaparte had no

time to rest.  The Papal States and the various aristocratic parties of

southern Italy were threatening to rise against the French.  The spirit of

independence and revolt which the invaders were bringing into the country

could not but weaken clerical and monarchical institutions.  An active

enemy to the south would have been a serious hindrance to Napoleon, and he

marched into the Papal States.  A fortnight was sufficient to silence the

threats of his enemies, and on February 19, 1797, he signed with the Pope

the treaty of Tolentino.  The peace was no sooner made than he started

again against the Austrians.


     When Mantua fell, and Austria saw herself driven from Italy, she had

called her ablest general, the Archduke Charles, from the Rhine, and given

him an army of over one hundred thousand men to lead against Bonaparte.

The French had been reenforced to some seventy thousand, and though twenty

thousand were necessary to keep Italy quiet, Bonaparte had a fine army,

and he led it confidently to meet the main body of the enemy, which had

been sent south to protect Trieste.  Early in March he crossed the

Tagliamento, and in a series of contests, in which he was uniformly

successful, he drove his opponent back, step by step, until Vienna itself

was in sight, and in April an armistice was signed.  In May the French

took possession of Venice, which had refused a French alliance, and which

was playing a perfidious part, in Bonaparte's judgment, and a republic on

the French model was established.


     Italy and Austria, worn out and discouraged by this "war of

principle," as Napoleon called it, at last compromised, and on October

17th, one year, seven months, and seven days after he left Paris, Napoleon

signed the treaty of Campo Formio.  By this treaty France gained the

frontier of the Rhine and the Low Countries to the mouth of the Scheldt.

Austria was given Venice, and a republic called the Cisalpine was formed

from Reggio, Modena, Lombardy, and a part of the States of the Pope.


     The military genius that this twenty-seven-year-old commander had

shown in the campaign in Italy bewildered his enemies and thrilled his



     "Things go on very badly," said an Austrian veteran taken at Lodi.

"No one seems to know what he is about.  The French general is a young

blockhead who knows nothing of the regular rules of war.  Sometimes he is

on our right, at others on our left; now in front, and presently in our

rear.  This mode of warfare is contrary to all system, and utterly



     It is certain that if Napoleon's opponents never knew what he was

going to do, if his generals themselves were frequently uncertain, it

being his practice to hold his peace about his plans, he himself had

definite rules of warfare.  The most important of these were:


     "Attacks should not be scattered, but should be concentrated."


     "Always be superior to the enemy at the point of attack."


     "Time is everything."


     To these formulated rules he joined marvelous fertility in stratagem.

The feint by which, at the beginning of the campaign, he had enticed

Beaulieu to march on Genoa, and that by which, a few days later, he had

induced him to place his army near Valenza, were masterpieces in their



     His quick-wittedness in emergency frequently saved him from disaster.

Thus, on August 4th, in the midst of the excitement of the contest,

Bonaparte went to Lonato to see what troops could be drawn from there.  On

entering he was greatly surprised to receive an Austrian parlementaire,

who called on the commandant of Lonato to surrender, because the French

were surrounded.  Bonaparte saw at once that the Austrians could be

nothing but a division which had been cut off and was seeking escape; but

he was embarrassed, for there were only twelve hundred men at Lonato.

Sending for the man, he had his eyes unbandaged, and told him that if his

commander had the presumption to capture the general-in-chief of the army

of Italy he might advance; that the Austrian division ought to have known

that he was at Lonato with his whole army; and he added that if they did

not lay down their arms in eight minutes he would not spare a man.  This

audacity saved Bonaparte, and won him four thousand prisoners with guns

and cavalry.


     His fertility in stratagem, his rapidity of action, his audacity in

attack, bewildered and demoralized the enemy, but it raised the enthusiasm

of his imaginative Southern troops to the highest pitch.


     He insisted in this campaign on one other rule: "Unity of command is

necessary to assure success." After his defeat of the Piedmontese, the

Directory ordered him, May 7, 1796, to divide his command with Kellermann.

Napoleon answered:


     "I believe it most impolitic to divide the army of Italy in two

parts.  It is quite as much against the interests of the republic to place

two different generals over it. . . .


     "A single general is not only necessary, but also it is essential

that nothing trouble him in his march and operations.  I have conducted

this campaign without consulting any one.  I should have done nothing of

value if I had been obliged to reconcile my plans with those of another.

I have gained advantage over superior forces and when stripped of

everything myself, because persuaded that your confidence was in me.  My

action has been as prompt as my thought.


     "If you impose hindrances of all sorts upon me, if I must refer every

step to government commissioners, if they have the right to change my

movements, of taking from me or of sending me troops, expect no more of

any value.  If you enfeeble your means by dividing your forces, if you

break the unity of military thought in Italy, I tell you sorrowfully you

will lose the happiest opportunity of imposing laws on Italy.


     "In the condition of the affairs of the republic in Italy, it is

indispensable that you have a general that has your entire confidence.  If

it is not I, I am sorry for it, but I shall redouble my zeal to merit your

esteem in the post you confide to me.  Each one has his own way of

carrying on war.  General Kellermann has more experience and will do it

better than I, but both together will do it very badly.


     "I can only render the services essential to the country when

invested entirely and absolutely with your confidence."


     He remained in charge, and throughout the rest of the campaign

continued to act more and more independently of the Directory, even

dictating terms of peace to please himself.


     It was in this Italian campaign that the almost superstitious

adoration which Napoleon's soldiers and most of his generals felt for him

began.  Brilliant generalship was not the only reason for this.  It was

due largely to his personal courage, which they had discovered at Lodi.  A

charge had been ordered across a wooden bridge swept by thirty pieces of

cannon, and beyond was the Austrian army.  The men hesitated, Napoleon

sprang to their head and led them into the thickest of the fire.  From

that day he was known among them as the "Little Corporal." He had won them

by the quality which appeals most deeply to a soldier in the ranks -

contempt of death.  Such was their devotion to him that they gladly

exposed their lives if they saw him in danger.  There were several such

cases in the battle of Arcola.  The first day, when Bonaparte was exposing

himself in an advance, his aide-de-camp, Colonel Muiron, saw that he was

in imminent danger.  Throwing himself before Bonaparte, the colonel

covered him with his body, receiving a wound which was destined for the

general.  The brave fellow's blood spurted into Bonaparte's face.  He

literally gave his life to save his commander's.  The same day, in a final

effort to take Arcola, Bonaparte seized a flag, rushed on the bridge, and

planted it there.  His column reached the middle of the bridge, but there

it was broken by the enemy's flanking fire.  The grenadiers at the head,

finding themselves deserted by the rear, were compelled to retreat; but,

critical as their position was, they refused to abandon their general.

They seized him by his arms, by his clothes, and dragged him with them

through shot and smoke.  When one fell out wounded, another pressed to his

place.  Precipitated into the morass, Bonaparte sank.  The enemy were

surrounding him when the grenadiers perceived his danger.  A cry was

raised, "Forward, soldiers, to save the General!" and immediately they

fell upon the Austrians with such fury that they drove them off, dragged

out their hero, and bore him to a safe place.


     His addresses never failed to stir them to action and enthusiasm.

They were oratorical, prophetic, and abounded in phrases which the

soldiers never forgot.  Such was his address at Milan:


     "Soldiers!  you have precipitated yourselves like a torrent from the

summit of the Apennines; you have driven back and dispersed all that

opposed your march.  Piedmont, liberated from Austrian tyranny, has

yielded to her natural sentiments of peace and amity towards France.

Milan is yours, and the Republican flag floats throughout Lombardy, while

the Dukes of Modena and Parma owe their political existence solely to your

generosity.  The army which so haughtily menaced you, finds no barrier to

secure it from your courage.  The Po, the Ticino, and the Adda have been

unable to arrest your courage for a single day.  Those boasted ramparts of

Italy proved insufficient.  You have surmounted them as rapidly as you

cleared the Apennines.  So much success has diffused joy through the bosom

of your country.  Yes, soldiers, you have done well; but is there nothing

more for you to accomplish?  Shall it be said of us that we knew how to

conquer, but knew not now to profit by victory?  Shall posterity reproach

us with having found a Capua in Lombardy?  But I see you rush to arms;

unmanly repose wearies you, and the days lost to glory are lost to



     "Let us set forward.  We have still forced marches to perform,

enemies to conquer, laurels to gather, and injuries to avenge.  Let those

tremble who have whetted the poniards of civil war in France; who have,

like dastards, assassinated our ministers, and burned our ships in Toulon.

The hour of vengeance is arrived, but let the people be tranquil.  We are

the friends of all nations, particularly the descendants of the Brutuses,

the Scipios, and those illustrious persons we have chosen for our models.

To restore the Capitol, replace with honor the statues of the heroes who

rendered it renowned, and rouse the Roman people, become torpid by so many

ages of slavery - shall, will, be the fruit of your victories.  You will

then return to your homes, and your fellow-citizens when pointing to you

will say, 'He was of the army of Italy.'"


     Such was his address in March, before the final campaign against the



     "You have been victorious in fourteen pitched battles and sixty-six

combats; you have taken one hundred thousand prisoners, five hundred

pieces of large cannon and two thousand pieces of smaller, four equipages

for bridge pontoons.  The country has nourished you, paid you during your

campaign, and you have beside that sent thirty millions from the public

treasury to Paris.  You have enriched the Museum of Paris with three

hundred chefs-'aeuvre of ancient and modern Italy, which it has taken

thirty ages to produce.  You have conquered the most beautiful country of

Europe.  The French colors float for the first time upon the borders of

the Adriatic.  The kings of Sardinia and Naples, the Pope, the Duke of

Parma have become allies.  You have chased the English from Leghorn,

Genoa, and Corsica.  You have yet to march against the Emperor of



     His approval was their greatest joy.  Let him speak a word of praise

to a regiment, and they embroidered it on their banners.  "I was at ease,

the Thirty-second was there," was on the flag of that regiment.  Over the

Fifty-seventh floated a name Napoleon had called them by, "The terrible



     His displeasure was a greater spur than his approval.  He said to a

corps which had retreated in disorder: "Soldiers, you have displeased me.

You have shown neither courage nor constancy, but have yielded positions

where a handful of men might have defied an army.  You are no longer

French soldiers.  Let it be written on their colors, 'They no longer form

part of the Army of Italy.'" A veteran pleaded that they be placed in the

van, and during the rest of the campaign no regiment was more



     The effect of his genius was as great on his generals as on his

troops.  They were dazzled by his stratagems and manoeuvres, inspired by

his imagination.  "There was so much of the future in him," is Marmont's

expressive explanation.  They could believe anything of him.  A remarkable

set of men they were to have as followers and friends - Augereau, Massena,

Berthier, Marmont, Junot.


     The people and the government in Paris had begun to believe in him,

as did the Army of Italy.  He not only sent flags and reports of victory;

he sent money and works of art.  Impoverished as the Directory was, the

sums which came from Italy were a reason for not interfering with the high

hand the young general carried in his campaigns and treaties.


     Never before had France received such letters from a general.  Now he

announces that he has sent "twenty first masters, from Correggio to

Michael Angelo;" now, "a dozen millions of money;" now, two or three

millions in jewels and diamonds to be sold in Paris.  In return he asks

only for men and officers "who have fire and a firm resolution not to make

learned retreats."


     The entry into Paris of the first art acquisitions made a profound

impression on the people:


     "The procession of enormous cars, drawn by richly caparisoned horses,

was divided into four sections.  First came trunks filled with books,

manuscripts, . . . including the antiques of Josephus, on papyrus, with

works in the handwriting of Galileo. . . . Then followed collections of

mineral products. . . . For the occasion were added wagons laden with iron

cages containing lions, tigers, panthers, over which waved enormous palm

branches and all kinds of exotic shrubs.  Afterwards rolled along chariots

bearing pictures carefully packed, but with the names of the most

important inscribed in large letters on the outside, as, The

Transfiguration, by Raphael; The Christ, by Titian.  The number was great,

the value greater.  When these trophies had passed, amid the applause of

an excited crowd, a heavy rumbling announced the approach of massive carts

bearing statues and marble groups: the Apollo Belvidere; the Nine Muses;

the Laocoon. . . . The Venus de Medici was eventually added, decked with

bouquets, crowns of flowers, flags taken from the enemy, and French,

Italian, and Greek inscriptions.  Detachments of cavalry and infantry,

colors flying, drums beating, music playing, marched at intervals; the

members of the newly established Institute fell into line; artists and

savants; and the singers of the theatres made the air ring with national

hymns.  This procession marched through all Paris, and at the Champ de

Mars defiled before the five members of the Directory surrounded by their

subordinate officers."


     The practice of sending home works of art, begun in the Italian

campaign, Napoleon continued throughout his military career, and the art

of France owes much to the education thus given the artists of the first

part of this century.  His agents ransacked Italy, Spain, Germany, and

Flanders for chefs-d'oeuvre.  When entering a country one of the first

things he did was to collect information about its chief art objects, in

order to demand them in case of victory, for it was by treaty that they

were usually obtained.  Among the works of art which Napoleon sent to

Paris were twenty-five Raphaels, twenty-three Titians, fifty-three

Rubenses, thirty-three Van Dykes, thirty-one Rembrandts.


     In Italy rose Napoleon's "star," that mysterious guide which he

followed from Lodi to Waterloo.  Here was born that faith in him and his

future, that belief that he "marched under the protection of the goddess

of fortune and of war," that confidence that he was endowed with a "good



     He called Lodi the birthplace of his faith.  "Vendemiaire and even

Montenotte did not make me believe myself a superior man.  It was only

after Lodi that it came into my head that I could become a decisive actor

on our political field.  Then was born the first spark of high ambition."


     Trained in a religion full of mysticism, taught to believe in signs,

guided by a "star," there is a tinge of superstition throughout his

active, practical, hardworking life.  Marmont tells that one day while in

Italy the glass over the portrait of his wife, which he always wore, was



     "He turned frightfully pale, and the impression upon him was most

sorrowful.  'Marmont,' he said, 'my wife is very ill or she is

unfaithful.'" There are many similar anecdotes to show his dependence upon

and confidence in omens.


     In a campaign of such achievements as that in Italy there seems to be

no time for love, and yet love was never more imperative, more absorbing,

in Napoleon's life than during this period.


     "Oh, my adorable wife," he wrote Josephine in April, "I do not know

what fate awaits me, but if it keeps me longer from you, I shall not be

able to endure it; my courage will not hold out to that point.  There was

a time when I was proud of my courage; and when I thought of the harm that

men might do me, of the lot that my destiny might reserve for me, I looked

at the most terrible misfortunes without a quiver, with no surprise.  But

now, the thought that my Josephine may be in trouble, that she may be ill,

and, above all, the cruel, fatal thought that she may love me less,

inflicts torture in my soul, stops the beating of my heart, makes me sad

and dejected, robs me of even the courage of fury and despair.  I often

used to say, 'Man can do no harm to one who is willing to die;' but now,

to die without being loved by you, to die without this certainty, is the

torture of hell; it is the vivid and crushing image of total annihilation.

It seems to me as if I were choking.  My only companion, you who have been

chosen by fate to make with me the painful journey of life, the day when I

shall no longer possess your heart will be that when for me the world

shall have lost all warmth and all its vegetation. . . . I will stop, my

sweet pet; my soul is sad.  I am very tired, my mind is worn out, I am

sick of men.  I have good reason for hating them.  They separate me from

my love."


     Josephine was indifferent to this strong passion.  "How queer

Bonaparte is!" she said coldly at the evidences of his affection which he

poured upon her; and when, after a few weeks separation, he began to

implore her to join him she hesitated, made excuses, tried in every

possible way to evade his wish.  It was not strange that a woman of her

indolent nature, loving flattery, having no passion but for amusement,

reckless expenditure, and her own ease, should prefer life in Paris.

There she shared with Madame Tallien the adoration which the Parisian

world is always bestowing on some fair woman.  At opera and ball she was

the centre of attraction; even in the street the people knew her.  Notre

Dame des Victoires was the name they gave her.


     In desperation at her indifference, Napoleon finally wrote her, in

June, from Tortona:


     "My life is a perpetual nightmare.  A black presentiment makes

breathing difficult.  I am no longer alive; I have lost more than life,

more than happiness, more than peace; I am almost without hope I am

sending you a courier.  He will stay only four hours in Paris, and then

will bring me your answer.  Write to me ten pages; that is the only thing

that can console me in the least.  You are ill; you love me; I have

distressed you; you are with child; and I do not see you. . . . I have

treated you so ill that I do not know how to set myself right in your

eyes.  I have been blaming you for staying in Paris, and you have been ill

there.  Forgive me, my dear; the love with which you have filled me has

robbed me of my reason, and I shall never recover it.  It is a malady from

which there is no recovery.  My forebodings are so gloomy that all I ask

is to see you, to hold you in my arms for two hours, and that we may die

together.  Who is taking care of you?  I suppose that you have sent for

Hortense; I love the dear child a thousand times better since I think that

she may console you a little.  As for me, I am without consolation, rest,

and hope until I see again the messenger whom I am sending to you, and

until you explain to me in a long letter just what is the matter with you,

and how serious it is.  If there were any danger, I warn you that I should

start at once for Paris. . . . You!  you! - and the rest of the world will

not exist for me any more than if it had been annihilated.  I care for

honor because you care for it; for victory, because it brings you

pleasure; otherwise, I should abandon everything to throw myself at your



     After this letter Josephine consented to go to Italy, but she left

Paris weeping as if going to her execution.  Once at Milan, where she held

almost a court, she recovered her gayety, and the two were very happy for

a time.  But it did not last.  Napoleon, obliged to be on the march, would

implore Josephine to come to him here and there, and once she narrowly

escaped with her life when trying to get away from the army.


     Wherever she was installed she had a circle of adorers about her, and

as a result she neglected writing to her husband.  Reproaches and

entreaties filled his letters.  He begged her for only a line, and he

implored her that she be less cold.


     "Your letters are as cold as fifty years of age; one would think they

had been written after we had been married fifteen years.  They are full

of the friendliness and feelings of life's winter, . . . What more can you

do to distress me?  Stop loving me?  That you have already done.  Hate me?

Well, I wish you would; everything degrades me except hatred; but

indifference, with a calm pulse, fixed eyes, monotonous walk! . . . A

thousand kisses, tender, like my heart."


     It was not merely indolence and indifference that caused Josephine's

neglect.  It was coquetry frequently, and Napoleon, informed by his

couriers as to whom she received at Milan or Genoa, and of the pleasures

she enjoyed, was jealous with all the force of his nature.  More than one

young officer who dared pay homage to Josephine in this campaign was

banished "by order of the commander-in-chief." Reaching Milan once,

unexpectedly, he found her gone.  His disappointment was bitter.


     "I reached Milan, rushed to your rooms, having thrown up everything

to see you, to press you to my heart - you were not there; you are

traveling about from one town to another, amusing yourself with balls. . .

. My unhappiness is inconceivable. . . . Don't put yourself out; pursue

your pleasure; happiness is made for you."


     It was between such extremes of triumphant love and black despair

that Napoleon lived throughout the Italian campaign

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