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As the wreck of the last ...
As the wreck of the last Grande Armée created in 1813, retreated home from Germany to France it was a pale shadow of its former glory. Marched into the ground as Napoleon struggled to pin down his enemies, and then beaten at Leipzig in the “battle of Nations” as faced by overwhelming weight of men, cavalry and cannon. They had shown their mettle at Hanau by brutally brushing aside the Bavarians who sought to bar their way across the Rhine, but there were now only some 70,000 to 80,000 men still with the colours. The men garrisoning cities and fortresses such as Danzig were lost to the great General, and his enemies implacably approached the soil of France.
With such an outlook, what then occurred was perhaps Napoleon’s finest hour, he rallied every last reserve, he could from veterans scraped from the Spanish frontier, or barely adult conscripts. He would then embark on the “Six Days Campaign”, in which he beat the army of Silesia under Blücher, four times in six days. The manoeuvres that led to the battles of Champaubert, Montmirail, Château-Thierry and Vauchamps, are justly celebrated.
The tragic dénouement which he and his victorious veterans would suffer, despite all of their hard fought victories would still be the ignominy of defeat as Napoleon’s Generals and Marshals shed their allegiance to him to save France.
Author – Francis Loraine Petre OBE - (1852–1925)
Text taken, whole and complete, from the edition published in 1904, London, by John Lane, The Bodley Head.
Original – 222 pages.
MAPS – due to their size have not been included [4 A3]