Jean-Antoine Verdier was a French General during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Born in Toulouse, he enlisted into the Régiment de la Fère on 18 February 1785 and he served as Aide-de-camp to Augereau in 1792 with the army of the Eastern Pyrenees. He was promoted to Brigadier in 1795, and the year in Italy. He was made General of Brigade on the battlefield of Castiglione, was wounded at Arcole, in Egypt, he commanded a brigade in Klébers division at the Battle of the Pyramids. At the siege of Acre, he was wounded by a bayonet thrust, on 1 November 1799, with only 1,000 men, Verdier attacked 8,000 Janissaries who had landed close to Damiette. He killed 2,000, took 800 prisoners, and captured 10 guns and 32 standards, kléber presented him with the Sabre of Honour and promoted him to Divisional General. After returning to France, Verdier was employed under Murat for a time in the Cisalpine Republic, as the campaigns got underway in 1805, Verdier took command of a division of the Army of Italy under Marshal Masséna.
During this campaign he was wounded in the crossing of the Adige, in February 1806, Verdier was transferred to the Army of Naples where he took command of a division of Reyniers corps. He led this division into the fighting at Campo Tenese, in March 1807, Verdier left Italy to join Grande Armée, and in May he took command of the 2nd Division of the Reserve Corps under Lannes. After taking part in the fighting of Heilsberg and Friedland. Spain was the campaign for Verdier, and in March 1808 he took command of the 2nd Division of Bessières corps. After winning at Logrono in June, he was chosen to replace Savary as commander of Aragon, upon taking charge of the siege of Saragossa, Verdier was wounded and later lifted the siege. In November he was to join Soults corps, but instead was directed to command the province of Bilbao, replacing Reille as commander of a German division, Verdier took up the siege of Girona in March 1809, and in December he accepted the citys surrender. The month before returning to France in April 1810, Verdier distinguished himself in the fighting around Arenys de Mar, for the next few years, Verdier commanded a division in a corps of observation, which became Oudinots II Corps for the Russian campaign.
In Russia, he fought at Jaboukowo, Khastitzi and Swolna, due to his awful wounds, he was sent back to France and avoided the horrors of the retreat. By May 1813 Verdier was fit enough for duty, and took command of the 4th Infantry Division of the Corps of Observation at the Adige. That September he took command of a corps under Prince Eugene consisting of Rouyers and Gratiens divisions in the Army of Italy and he was wounded by a shot in the combat of Ala in November, but it was not bad enough to put him out of action. In 1814 he took command of a corps consisting of the commanded by Quesnel, Fressinet
French invasion of Russia
Napoleon hoped to compel Tsar Alexander I of Russia to cease trading with British merchants through proxies in an effort to pressure the United Kingdom to sue for peace. The official political aim of the campaign was to liberate Poland from the threat of Russia, Napoleon named the campaign the Second Polish War to gain favor with the Poles and provide a political pretext for his actions. The Grande Armée was a large force, numbering 680,000 soldiers. Napoleon hoped the battle would mean an end of the march into Russia, plans Napoleon had made to quarter at Smolensk were abandoned, and he pressed his army on after the Russians. As the Russian army fell back, Cossacks were given the task of burning villages and this was intended to deny the invaders the option of living off the land. The actions forced the French to rely on a system that was incapable of feeding the large army in the field. Starvation and privation compelled French soldiers to leave their camps at night in search of food and these men were frequently confronted by parties of Cossacks, who captured or killed them.
The Russian army retreated into Russia for almost three months, the continual retreat and the loss of lands to the French upset the Russian nobility. They pressured Alexander I to relieve the commander of the Russian army, Alexander I complied, appointing an old veteran, Prince Mikhail Kutuzov, to take over command of the army. However, for two more weeks Kutuzov continued to retreat as his predecessor had done, on 7 September, the French caught up with the Russian army which had dug itself in on hillsides before a small town called Borodino, seventy miles west of Moscow. The battle that followed was the bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars until that point, involving more than 250,000 soldiers, the French gained a tactical victory, but at the cost of 49 general officers and thousands of men. The Russian army was able to extricate itself and withdrew the following day, Napoleon entered Moscow a week later. In another turn of events the French found puzzling, there was no delegation to meet the Emperor, the Russians had evacuated the city, and the citys governor, Count Fyodor Rostopchin, ordered several strategic points in Moscow set ablaze.
Napoleons hopes had been set upon an end to his campaign. The loss of Moscow did not compel Alexander I to sue for peace, Napoleon stayed on in Moscow looking to negotiate a peace, his hopes fed in part by a disinformation campaign informing the Emperor of supposed discontent and fading morale in the Russian camp. After staying a month Napoleon moved his army out southwest toward Kaluga, the French advance toward Kaluga was checked by a Russian corps. Napoleon tried once more to engage the Russian army for an action at the Battle of Maloyaroslavets. Despite holding a position, the Russians retreated following a sharp engagement
Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle
Pierre Hugues Victoire Merle was a French general during the First French Empire of Napoleon. He joined the French army as a private in 1781 but after the French Revolution and he was appointed a general officer in 1794 for distinguishing himself during the War of the Pyrenees. After leading a brigade at Austerlitz in December 1805, he was promoted again and his division was in the first wave of the 1808 invasion of Spain, which precipitated the Peninsular War. In Spain, he led his division at Medina de Rioseco, Corunna and Second Porto, Sabugal, after being sent home from Spain, Merle was assigned to lead a division in the French invasion of Russia. He led his troops at First and Second Polotsk and he embraced the Bourbon cause in 1814, retired from the army in 1816, and died at Marseilles in 1830. Merle is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe on Column 35, generals Who Served in the French Army during the Period 1789-1815, Mellet to Mireur. The Spanish Ulcer, A History of the Peninsular War, biographie des célébrités militaires des armées de terre et de mer de 1789 a 1850, MERLE.
A History of the Peninsular War Volume I, a History of the Peninsular War Volume II. A History of the Peninsular War Volume III, a History of the Peninsular War Volume IV. The French Campaign in Portugal 1810-1811, An Account by Jean Jacques Pelet
Nicolas Charles Oudinot, 1st Comte Oudinot, 1st Duc de Reggio, was a Marshal of France. He is known to have been wounded 34 times in battle, Nicolas Charles Oudinot was the son of Nicolas Oudinot and Marie Anne Adam, the only one of their nine children to live to adulthood. His father was brewer and distiller of brandy in Bar-le-Duc, Lorraine. He decided upon a career, and served in the regiment of Medoc from 1784 to 1787. The French Revolution changed his fortunes, and in 1792, on the outbreak of war, he was elected lieutenant-colonel of the 3rd battalion of the volunteers of the Meuse. He was André Massénas right hand all through the Swiss campaign of 1799, first as a general of division, as chief of staff, and won extraordinary distinction at the Second Battle of Zurich. He was present under Massena at the Siege of Genoa, and he was made inspector-general of infantry, and, on the establishment of the empire, given the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, but was not included in the first creation of marshals.
Oudinot was elected a member of the chamber of deputies, but had time to devote to politics. In 1807, he participated in Joachim Murats victory in a battle at Ostrolenka in Poland and fought with resolution and success at the Battle of Friedland. In 1808 he was governor of Erfurt and Count of the French Empire. He was made a duke in chief of the duché-grand fief of Reggio in the satellite Kingdom of Naples. From 1810 to 1812 Oudinot administered the government of the former Kingdom of Holland and his corps was instrumental in building the bridge over the Berezina that allowed the evacuation of troops after the defeat at the Battle of Berezina. He was present at the Battle of Lützen and the Battle of Bautzen, and he was superseded by Marshal Ney, but the latter was defeated at the Battle of Dennewitz. He held important commands at the Battle of Leipzig and in the campaign of 1814, on Napoleons abdication, he rallied to the new government, and was made a Peer of France by the Bourbon Restoration King Louis XVIII.
Unlike many of his old comrades, he did not desert to his master during Bonapartes 1815 return. His last active service was in the French invasion of Spain in 1823 and he died as governor of the Parisian veterans institution Les Invalides. 1849, Knight Grand Cross in the Order of Pope Pius IX, Marshal Nicolas Charles Oudinot, Le Bayard de lArmée Français. Journal of the International Napoleonic Society
First French Empire
The First French Empire, Note 1 was the empire of Napoleon Bonaparte of France and the dominant power in much of continental Europe at the beginning of the 19th century. Its name was a misnomer, as France already had colonies overseas and was short lived compared to the Colonial Empire, a series of wars, known collectively as the Napoleonic Wars, extended French influence over much of Western Europe and into Poland. The plot included Bonapartes brother Lucien, serving as speaker of the Council of Five Hundred, Roger Ducos, another Director, on 9 November 1799 and the following day, troops led by Bonaparte seized control. They dispersed the legislative councils, leaving a rump legislature to name Bonaparte, Sieyès, although Sieyès expected to dominate the new regime, the Consulate, he was outmaneuvered by Bonaparte, who drafted the Constitution of the Year VIII and secured his own election as First Consul. He thus became the most powerful person in France, a power that was increased by the Constitution of the Year X, the Battle of Marengo inaugurated the political idea that was to continue its development until Napoleons Moscow campaign.
Napoleon planned only to keep the Duchy of Milan for France, setting aside Austria, the Peace of Amiens, which cost him control of Egypt, was a temporary truce. He gradually extended his authority in Italy by annexing the Piedmont and by acquiring Genoa, Parma and Naples, he laid siege to the Roman state and initiated the Concordat of 1801 to control the material claims of the pope. Napoleon would have ruling elites from a fusion of the new bourgeoisie, on 12 May 1802, the French Tribunat voted unanimously, with exception of Carnot, in favour of the Life Consulship for the leader of France. This action was confirmed by the Corps Législatif, a general plebiscite followed thereafter resulting in 3,653,600 votes aye and 8,272 votes nay. On 2 August 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Consul for life, pro-revolutionary sentiment swept through Germany aided by the Recess of 1803, which brought Bavaria, Württemberg and Baden to Frances side. The memories of imperial Rome were for a time, after Julius Caesar and Charlemagne.
The Treaty of Pressburg, signed on 26 December 1805, did little other than create a more unified Germany to threaten France. On the other hand, Napoleons creation of the Kingdom of Italy, the occupation of Ancona, to create satellite states, Napoleon installed his relatives as rulers of many European states. The Bonapartes began to marry into old European monarchies, gaining sovereignty over many nations, in addition to the vassal titles, Napoleons closest relatives were granted the title of French Prince and formed the Imperial House of France. Met with opposition, Napoleon would not tolerate any neutral power, Prussia had been offered the territory of Hanover to stay out of the Third Coalition. With the diplomatic situation changing, Napoleon offered Great Britain the province as part of a peace proposal and this, combined with growing tensions in Germany over French hegemony, Prussia responded by forming an alliance with Russia and sending troops into Bavaria on 1 October 1806. In this War of the Fourth Coalition, Napoleon destroyed the armies of Frederick William at Jena-Auerstedt, the Eylau and the Friedland against the Russians finally ruined Frederick the Greats formerly mighty kingdom, obliging Russia and Prussia to make peace with France at Tilsit.
The Treaties of Tilsit ended the war between Russia and the French Empire and began an alliance between the two empires that held power of much of the rest of Europe, the two empires secretly agreed to aid each other in disputes
Nicolas Joseph Maison
Nicolas Joseph Maison, 1er Marquis Maison was a Marshal of France and Minister of War. Maison was born in Épinay-sur-Seine, near Paris and he enlisted in the French Revolutionary army in 1792 and served in the early French Revolutionary Wars. He served as aide-de-camp to Minister of War Bernadotte in 1799, during the campaign of 1806 he served as a general de brigade in the corps of Marshal Bernadotte and took part in the chase of the Prussian army to Lübeck after their defeat at Jena. In 1808 he was sent to Spain where he served under Marshal Victor and was wounded at the capture of Madrid, in 1812 he joined Napoléon in the invasion of Russia. At the Beresina he was promoted to general de division and made a baron, after the wounding of Marshal Oudinot, he took over command of the II Corps and led it during the retreat to the Weischel. He served in the campaign of 1813 and after Marshal Jacques MacDonalds defeat at the Battle of Katzbach was once tasked with leading the retreat. After the Battle of Leipzig, where he was wounded, he was given the Grand Cross of the Légion dhonneur and was made a count of the empire, in 1814 he was tasked with defending what is now Belgium and the port of Antwerp.
With inadequate forces, he managed to hold his own against greatly superior Allied forces, after the abdication of the emperor, Maison rallied to Louis XVIII of France, who made him a Knight of St. Louis and appointed him Governor of Paris. During the Hundred Days, Maison stayed loyal to the Bourbons, after the Second Restoration, he was made commandant of the 1st Military Division. In 1817, Maison was created a marquis and a Peer of France by Louis XVIII, in 1828 he was given command of the French expeditionary corps in the Morea against Ibrahim Pasha. Upon his return to France in 1829 he was created a Marshal of France by Charles X, in 1830 he joined the July Revolution and served in November 1830 as Minister of Foreign Affairs for a couple of weeks, before being sent to Vienna as ambassador. In 1833 he was ambassador to Russia in St. Petersburg. Maison served as minister of war from 30 April 1835 to 19 September 1836 after which he retired from public life