Battle of Marengo
The Battle of Marengo was fought on 14 June 1800 between French forces under Napoleon Bonaparte and Austrian forces near the city of Alessandria, in Piedmont, Italy. Near the end of the day, the French overcame Gen. Michael von Melas's surprise attack, driving the Austrians out of Italy and consolidating Napoleon's political position in Paris as First Consul of France in the wake of his coup d’état the previous November. Surprised by the Austrian advance toward Genoa in mid-April 1800, Bonaparte hastily led his army over the Alps in mid-May and reached Milan on 2 June. After cutting Melas’ line of communications by crossing the River Po and defeating Feldmarschallleutnant Peter Karl Ott von Bátorkéz at Montebello on 9 June, the French closed in on the Austrian army, which had massed in Alessandria. Deceived by a local double agent, Bonaparte dispatched large forces to the north and south, but the Austrians launched a surprise attack on 14 June against the main French army under Gen. Louis Alexandre Berthier.
Their two assaults across the Fontanone stream near Marengo village were repelled, Gen. Jean Lannes reinforced the French right. Bonaparte realized the true position and issued orders at 11:00 am to recall the detachment under Général de Division Louis Desaix, while moving his reserve forward. On the Austrian left Ott's column had taken Castel Ceriolo, its advance guard moved south to attack Lannes’ flank. Melas renewed the Austrians broke the central French position. By 2:30 pm the French were withdrawing and Austrian dragoons seized the Marengo farm. Bonaparte had by arrived with the reserve, but Berthier's troops began to fall back on the main vine belts. Knowing Desaix was approaching, Bonaparte was anxious about a column of Ott's soldiers marching from the north, so he deployed his Consular Guard infantry to delay it; the French withdrew eastward toward San Giuliano Vecchio as the Austrians formed a column to follow them in line with Ott's advance in the northern sector. Desaix's arrival around 5:30 pm stabilized the French position, as the 9th Light Infantry Regiment delayed the Austrian advance down the main road and the rest of the army reformed north of Cascina Grossa.
As the pursuing Austrian troops arrived, a mix of musketry and artillery fire concealed the surprise attack of Général de Brigade François Étienne de Kellermann’s cavalry, which threw the Austrian pursuit into disordered flight back into Alessandria, with about 14,000 killed, wounded or captured. The French casualties were fewer, but included Desaix; the whole French line chased after the Austrians to seal une victoire politique that secured Bonaparte's grip on power after the coup. It would be followed by a propaganda campaign that sought to rewrite the story of the battle three times during Napoleon's rule; the Battle of Marengo was the victory that sealed the success of Bonaparte's Italian campaign of 1800 and is best understood in the context of that campaign. By a daring crossing of the Alps with his Army of the Reserve in mid-May 1800 before the passes were open, Bonaparte had threatened Melas' lines of communications in northern Italy; the French army seized Milan on 2 June, followed by Pavia and Stradella, cutting the main Austrian supply route eastward along the south bank of the Po river.
Bonaparte hoped that Melas' preoccupation with the Siege of Genoa, held by Gen. André Masséna, would prevent the Austrians from responding to his offensive. However, Genoa surrendered on 4 June, freeing a large number of Austrians for operations against the French. On 9 June Gen. Jean Lannes beat Feldmarschallleutnant Peter Ott in the Battle of Montebello; this caused Bonaparte to get overconfident. He became convinced that Melas would not attack and, that the Austrians were about to retreat; as other French forces closed from the west and south, the Austrian commander had withdrawn most of his troops from their positions near Nice and Genoa to Alessandria on the main Turin-Mantua road. The Austrians planned to fight their way out eastward but--using a local double agent known by his cover of François Toli--attempted to deceive Bonaparte into thinking they would try to march north, cross the Po and head for Milan, joined by the remaining troops marching up from Genoa; the spy would advise Bonaparte to march via Sale on the northern side of the plain, so that he could be engaged by the Austrian left wing.
Ott arrived from Montebello of 13 June in a war council. The senior generals of the Austrian army approved this plan, as the alternative would have meant that the army would have had to retreat along the River Po and leave Piedmont to the enemy without a fight. Nonetheless, by abandoning the San Giuliano plain, where the superior Austrian cavalry could have given him an edge, Melas made a serious mistake. Bonaparte knew that Ott had no way out from Alessandria. Following his meeting with the spy and fearing that the Austrian general might try to escape, Bonaparte spread his army out in a wide net by sending Louis Desaix with Divisional General Jean Boudet's division south to Novi Ligure and Divisional General Jean François Cornu de La Poype north on the other bank of the Po. Further north, from Vercelli to Lake Maggiore, were stationed the divisions of Antoine de Béthencourt and Joseph Chabran and, further to the rear, north of Piacenza, Jean Thomas Guillaume Lorge's division. Bonaparte's view was confirmed when Gen. Claude Victor-Perrin, supported by Divisional General Joachim Murat’s
Carcassonne is a French fortified city in the department of Aude, in the region of Occitanie. A prefecture, it has a population of about 50,000. Inhabited since the Neolithic period, Carcassonne is located in the Aude plain between historic trade routes, linking the Atlantic to the Mediterranean sea and the Massif Central to the Pyrénées, its strategic importance was recognized by the Romans, who occupied its hilltop until the demise of the Western Roman Empire. In the fifth century, it was taken over by the Visigoths, its strategic location led successive rulers to expand its fortifications until the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. Its citadel known as the Cité de Carcassonne, is a medieval fortress dating back to the Gallo-Roman period, was restored by the theorist and architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1853, it was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1997. Carcassonne relies on tourism but counts manufacturing and wine-making as some of its other key economic sectors. Carcassonne is located in the south of France, about 80 kilometres east of Toulouse.
Its strategic location between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea has been known since the neolithic era. The town's area is about 65 km2, larger than the numerous small towns in the department of Aude; the rivers Aude and the Canal du Midi flow through the town. The first signs of settlement in this region have been dated to about 3500 BC, but the hill site of Carsac – a Celtic place-name, retained at other sites in the south – became an important trading place in the 6th century BC; the Volcae Tectosages fortified the oppidum. The folk etymology – involving a châtelaine named Lady Carcas, a ruse ending a siege, the joyous ringing of bells – though memorialized in a neo-Gothic sculpture of Mme. Carcas on a column near the Narbonne Gate, is of modern invention; the name can be derived as an augmentative of the name Carcas. Carcassonne became strategically identified when the Romans fortified the hilltop around 100 BC and made the colonia of Julia Carsaco Carcasum; the main part of the lower courses of the northern ramparts dates from Gallo-Roman times.
In 462 the Romans ceded Septimania to the Visigothic king Theodoric II who had held Carcassonne since 453. He built more fortifications at Carcassonne, a frontier post on the northern marches. Theodoric is thought to have begun the predecessor of the basilica, now dedicated to Saint Nazaire. In 508 the Visigoths foiled attacks by the Frankish king Clovis. Saracens from Barcelona took Carcassonne in 725, but King Pepin the Short drove them away in 759-60. A medieval fiefdom, the county of Carcassonne, controlled its environs, it was united with the County of Razès. The origins of Carcassonne as a county lie in local representatives of the Visigoths, but the first count known by name is Bello of the time of Charlemagne. Bello founded a dynasty, the Bellonids, which would rule many honores in Septimania and Catalonia for three centuries. In 1067, Carcassonne became the property of Raimond-Bernard Trencavel, viscount of Albi and Nîmes, through his marriage with Ermengard, sister of the last count of Carcassonne.
In the following centuries, the Trencavel family allied in succession either with the counts of Barcelona or of Toulouse. They built the Basilica of Saints Nazarius and Celsus. In 1096, Pope Urban II blessed the foundation stones of the new cathedral. Carcassonne became famous for its role in the Albigensian Crusades, when the city was a stronghold of Occitan Cathars. In August 1209 the crusading army of the Papal Legate, Abbot Arnaud Amalric, forced its citizens to surrender. Viscount Raymond-Roger de Trencavel was imprisoned whilst negotiating his city's surrender and died in mysterious circumstances three months in his own dungeon; the people of Carcassonne were allowed to leave – in effect, expelled from their city with nothing more than the shirt on their backs. Simon De Montfort was appointed the new viscount, he added to the fortifications. In 1240, Trencavel's son in vain; the city submitted to the rule of the kingdom of France in 1247. Carcassonne became a border fortress between France and the Crown of Aragon under the Treaty of Corbeil.
King Louis IX founded the new part of the town across the river. He and his successor Philip III built the outer ramparts. Contemporary opinion still considered the fortress impregnable. During the Hundred Years' War, Edward the Black Prince failed to take the city in 1355, although his troops destroyed the Lower Town. In 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees transferred the border province of Roussillon to France, Carcassonne's military significance was reduced. Fortifications were abandoned, the city became an economic centre that concentrated on the woollen textile industry, for which a 1723 source quoted by Fernand Braudel found it "the manufacturing centre of Languedoc", it remained so until the Ottoman market collapsed at the end of the eighteenth century, thereafter reverting to a country town. Carcassonne was the first fortress to use hoardings in times of siege. Temporary wooden ramparts would be fitted to the upper walls of the fortress through square holes beneath the rampart itself, it provided protection to defenders on the wall and allowed defenders to go out past the wall to drop projectiles on attackers at the wall
Maquis (World War II)
The Maquis were rural guerrilla bands of French Resistance fighters, called maquisards, during the Nazi Occupation of France in World War II. They were composed of men and women who had escaped into the mountains to avoid conscription into Vichy France's Service du travail obligatoire to provide forced labor for Germany. To avert capture and deportation to Germany, they became organized into active resistance groups; the word came from the kind of terrain in which the armed resistance groups hid, high ground in southeastern France covered with scrub growth called maquis. Although speaking it means thicket, maquis could be translated as "the bush". Historians have not established. In Corsica, the saying Prendre le maquis "to go into the bush" is used to describe someone who leaves the village in order to live in the bush, biding time to seek revenge, or are being pursued by people with and intent to arrest or kill; the Italian-derived word ‘maquis’ is used to describe woods and scrubland on the island, evokes an all-encompassing image of woods and mountains, whereas the more limited word ‘garrigue’ used in the south of France indicated an inhospitable terrain, the words ‘bois’, ‘foret’ and ‘montagne’ were too bland.
The term maquis signified both the group of their rural location. Members of those bands were called maquisards, their image was a committed and voluntary fighter, a combattant, as opposed to the previous réfractaire. The term became an honorific meaning "armed resistance fighter"; the maquis came to symbolize the French Resistance. Most maquisards operated in the remote or mountainous areas of Brittany and southern France in the Alps and in Limousin, they relied on guerrilla tactics to harass the Milice and German occupation troops. The Maquis aided the escape of downed Allied airmen and others pursued by the Vichy and German authorities. Maquisards relied on some degree of sympathy or cooperation from the local populace. In March 1944, the German army began a terror campaign throughout France; this included reprisals against civilians living in areas where the French resistance was active, such as the Oradour-sur-Glane, Maillé and Tulle massacres by SS troops. The Maquisards were to take their revenge in the épuration sauvage that took place after the war's end.
Most of the Maquis cells—like the Maquis du Limousin or the Maquis du Vercors—took names after the area they were operating in. The size of these cells varied from tens to thousands of women. In French Indochina, the local resistance fighting the Japanese since 1941 was backed up by a special forces airborne commando unit created by de Gaulle in 1943, known as the Corps Léger d'Intervention, they were supplied by airlifts of the British Force 136. Politically, the Maquis were diverse, including right-wing nationalists, socialists and anarchists; some Maquis bands that operated in southwest France, were composed of left-wing Spanish veterans of the Spanish Civil War. Spanish Civil War veteran Carlos Romero Giménez was a center-democratic liberal operating from Bordeaux; when Germany began a forced labor draft in France at the beginning of 1943, thousands of young men fled and joined the Maquis. The British Special Operations Executive helped the Maquis with agents; the American Office of Strategic Services began to send its own agents to France in cooperation with the SOE and the French BCRA agents, as part of Operation Jedburgh.
The British government provided supplies and support to assist Charles de Gaulle to unify the Free French resistance movement. Prior to the inception of the maquis, small resistance groups were created in the occupied and unoccupied zones of France. In northern and western France, movements like Organisation Civile et Militaire, Libération-Nord, Ceux de la Libération, Ceux de la Résistance survived through clandestine pamphlets or newspapers, to build up a solidarity of attitudes and disparate actions and to taunt the Germans; some of these movements took the first steps at hiding weapons and plotting sabotage. In the Zone Libre, movements were created as early as in the north and west but did not face decimating raids by the authorities, which allowed movements like Combat, Libération-Sud and Franc-Tireur to have a more expansive character". Resistance groups in the occupied zone became linked to the Free French in London or the Special Operations Executive set up by Britain to undermine Nazi-occupied Europe with specially trained agents.
By May 1941, the northern movements, who specialized in sabotage and espionage and the southern movements, who focused on planning escape routes, developed the only major movement common to both, the Front National. Resistance became linked with the effects of the occupation and Vichy legislation and as the working class became alienated "resisters and people on the run could be harboured with a degree of safety". in the rural areas of France, resistance had a role and justification in the lives of many people "who had no ambition to hold a gun, or memorize a coded message, though as the occupation grew in its violence the pressure on the French people to defend themselves by force intensified, the military nature of resistance came to predominate". The connection between the Vichy government and armed resistance paved the way for the eventual formation of the Maquis; the Service du Travail Obligatoire was enacted on 16 February 1943 but underwent various refinements and classificat
Locks on the Canal du Midi
There are 91 working locks on the Canal du Midi along its 240-kilometre course from the Bassin du Thau on the Mediterranean coast to the junction with the Canal lateral a la Garonne in Toulouse. There are a further 13 locks on the 37-kilometre La Nouvelle branch which runs through Narbonne to the Mediterranean at Port-la-Nouvelle; the locks are all under the management of the French navigation authority, Voies navigables de France. The Canal du Midi was built between 1666 and 1681 by Pierre-Paul Riquet to provide an inland water route through Southern France between the Atlantic at Bordeaux and the Mediterranean at Sète via the Garonne; the first design for the locks on the canal was a rectangular shape however due to a collapse of a side-wall early in the building program, Riquet modified his plans and rebuilt both existing and new locks with an ovoid chamber. They were 11m wide at the midpoint and 6m at the gates with an overall length of 30.5m. Riquet restricted the maximum rise to 2.9m so whereas he would have built one deep lock he instead used intermediate gates creating double and sometimes quadruple chambers.
During the Canal du Midi modernisation program of the 1970s several of these multiple chambers were converted into single "deep" locks with concrete side walls. The lock gates were made of oak in the traditional mitre pattern with balance beams and each gate had a single large wooden sluice drawn up by a vertical screw; the introduction of electric and hydraulic systems for both the lifting of the sluices and the opening of the gates has seen the removal of the balance beams and modern gates are of metal construction. At each lock there is a double-fronted two-storey lock keeper's house upon, fixed either a cast iron or a masonry sign showing the name of the lock and the name and distance to the adjacent locks in each direction; the locks are still operated by lock keepers and passage is only possible when they are in attendance however on La Nouvelle branch operation by boaters is allowed. The locks are open every day except 1 January, 11 November and 25 December, from 08:00 until 17:30 out of season and 08:00 until 19:00 in the summer peak.
At its western end, the canal is at an altitude of 132 metres and climbs to 193 metres at its summit level between Ocean Lock and Mediterranee Lock west of Castelnaudary before dropping down to sea level at Sète. The graph shows the profile of the Canal du Midi from Toulouse, through the summit of the canal at Seuil de Naurouze, Castelnaudary Carcassonne and Trèbes; the channel continues to Béziers just after Fonsérannes Lock, on to Agde before flowing in to the Bassin de Thau at Sète. At 193 metres, Naurouze is the highest point of the canal with a drop of 57.18 metres between the summit and Toulouse and 189.43 metres between the summit and Sète. The longest pound is 53.49 kilometres between Argens Lock and the Fonsérannes Lock while the shortest reach is 250 metres between two locks at Fresquel. The following list numbers the locks from the Canal lateral a la Garonne in the west to the Bassin du Thau in the east. Staircase locks are listed as a single entity but the number of individual chambers in the flight is noted.
Travelling west to east from Toulouse to Sète the locks numbered 1–18 are ascending and 19–86 are descending. Castanet lock is the first lock with an elliptical chamber, as Riquet realised it was the best fit solution due to mechanical stress from surrounding areas. Aqueducts on the Canal du Midi Water features on the Canal du Midi A Lock numbers are as given in the appendix of the 1994 edition From Sea to Sea by L. T. C. Rolt B The flight at Fonserannes was "replaced" by a water slope in 1984 hence the single "lock number". However, the slope has never worked and the 6 flight staircase remains the only way to pass through meaning that there are 91 locks but only 86 numbers. C Chamber has three sets of gates, the third being the junction with the branch descente dans l'Hérault