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The Memoirs of General the Baron de Marbot

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officers and the general died of yellow fever.

I joined the 25th Chasseurs at Salamanca. The colonel was M.
Moreau, an old officer and a very fine fellow. He gave me a warm
welcome, as did my new comrades; and in a few days I was on the
best of terms with everybody. I was introduced to the town's
society, for at that time the presence of the French was highly
acceptable to the Spanish, and completely opposite to what it
became later. In 1801 we were their allies. We had come to fight
for them against the Portuguese and the English, so we were
treated as friends. The French officers were billeted with the
wealthiest inhabitants and there was competition to have them. We
were received everywhere. We were overwhelmed by invitations.
Being thus admitted into the family life of the Spaniards, we
learned more, in a short time, about their way of living than
officers who came to the peninsula during the War of Independence
could have learned in several years.

I was billeted in the home of a university professor, who had
given me a very nice room looking out onto the handsome Salamanca
square. My regimental duties were not very onerous and left me
plenty of leisure time, which I used to study the Spanish
language, which is, in my opinion, the most elegant and beautiful
in Europe. It was at Salamanca that I saw, for the first time,
the famous General Lasalle. He sold me a horse.

The fifteen thousand French troops sent to Spain with General
Leclerc formed the right wing of the Spanish Grand Army, which
was commanded by the "Prince de la Paix" and we were therefore
under his orders. This man (Emmanuel Godoy) was the queen's
favourite and was, in effect, the king. He came to revue us on
one occasion. He seemed to me to be very pleased with himself,
and although he was small and undistinguished looking, he was not
lacking in charm and ability.

Godoy started the army moving, and our regiment went to Toro and
then to Zamora. I was sorry to leave Salamanca at first, but we
were as well received in other towns, particularly in Zamora,
where I stayed in the house of a rich merchant who had a superb
garden, where a numerous society would gather in the evenings to
make music and pass part of the night in conversation amid groves
of pomegranates myrtles and lemon trees. It is difficult to
appreciate fully the beauties of nature if one has not
experienced the delicious nights of the southern countries.

We had, however, to tear ourselves away from the pleasant life
which we were leading to go and attack the Portuguese. We crossed
the border: there were a few small engagements which all went our
way: the French troops went to Viseu, while the Spanish came down
the Tagus and reached Alantejo: we expected to enter Lisbon soon,
as conquerors. But the Prince de la Paix, who had, without much
reflection, called the French troops into the peninsula, now,
also without much reflection, took fright at their presence, and
to get rid of them he concluded, without the knowledge of the
First Consul, a peace treaty with the Portuguese, which he
cunningly had ratified by the French ambassador, Lucien
Bonaparte. This greatly annoyed the First Consul, and caused,
from that day, a rift between the two brothers.

The French troops stayed for several months longer in Portugal,
until the beginning of 1802; then we returned to Spain and
successively to our previous charming stations of Zamora, Toro
and Salamanca, where we were always made welcome.

On this occasion I went through Spain on horseback with my
regiment, and had no longer any need to avoid the verminous beds
of the pousadas, since we were lodged each evening with the most
respectable citizens. A route march, when one makes it with one's
own regiment and in good weather, is not without a certain charm.
One has a constant change of scene, without being separated from
one's comrades; one sees the countryside in the greatest detail;
we talk as we travel, we dine together, sometimes well, sometimes
badly, and one is in a position to observe the customs of the

One of our pleasures was to watch in the evenings the Spaniards,
shedding their usual lethargy, dance the fandango and the bolero
with a perfection of grace and agility, even in the villages.
The colonel offered them the use of his band, but they, quite
rightly, preferred the guitar, the castanets, and a woman's
voice; an accompaniment which gave the dance its national
characteristics. These improvised dances, in the open air,
engaged in by the working class in the towns as well as in the
country, gave us so much pleasure, even as spectators, that we
were sorry to leave them.

After more than a month on the road, we recrossed the Bidassoa,
and although I had happy memories of my stay in Spain, it was
with pleasure that I saw France once more.

Chap. 16.

At this period, regiments were responsible for their own
remounts, and the colonel had been authorised to buy sixty horses
which he hoped to procure, bit by bit, in French Navarre, while
he was taking the regiment to Toulouse, where we were to form the
garrison. But, for my sins, we arrived at Bayonne on the day of
the town fair, and the place was full of horse-copers. The
colonel arranged a deal with one of them, who provided all the
horses the unit needed straight away. The dealer could not be
paid immediately because the funds provided by the ministry would
take a week to arrive. The colonel then ordered that an officer
should remain behind in Bayonne, to receive this money and pay
the supplier. I was picked for this wretched task, which landed
me later in a most disagreeable situation, though at the time I
saw only that I had been deprived of the pleasure of travelling
with my comrades. However, in spite of my feelings, I had to obey

To make it easier for me to rejoin the unit, the colonel decided
that my horse should go with the regiment, and that after I had
completed my mission, I should take the stage-coach to Toulouse.
I knew several former pupils from Soreze who lived in Bayonne and
who helped me to pass the time agreeably. The funds provided by
the ministry arrived and I paid them out and was now free from
all responsibility and ready to rejoin my regiment.

I had a cotton dolman, braided in the same material, and with
silver buttons. I had had this strange costume made when I was on
Bernadotte's staff, since it was the fashion there to wear this
uniform when travelling in hot weather. I decided to wear this
outfit on the journey to Toulouse, as I was not with my regiment,
so I packed my uniform in my trunk and took it to the
stage-coach, where I booked my seat and, unfortunately, paid in

The coach was due to leave at five in the morning, so I told the
porter at the hotel where I was staying to come and waken me at
four, and the rascal having promised to do so, I went to bed
without further ado. But he forgot; and when I opened my eyes,
the sun was shining into the room and it was after eight
o'clock...! What a disaster...! I was dumbfounded, and having
cursed and upbraided the negligent porter, I had to think what I
could do. The first difficulty was that the stage-coach ran only
every second day, but that was not the major problem, which was
that though the regiment had paid for my seat because I was on
duty, they were not obliged to pay twice, and I had been stupid
enough to pay for the whole journey in advance; so that if I took
a new seat it would be at my own expense. Now at this time
stage-coach fares were very costly, and I had very little money,
and also, what was I to do for forty-eight hours in Bayonne, when
all my belongings were on the coach...? I resolved to make the
journey on foot.

I left the town without delay, and set off bravely on the road to
Toulouse. I was lightly clad, and had nothing but my sabre, which
I carried on my shoulder, so I covered the first stage briskly
enough and spent the night at Peyrehorade.

The next day was a day of disaster. I intended to go as far as
Orthez, and had already made half the journey when I was
overtaken by one of these terrible storms which one has in the
Midi. Rain mixed with hail fell in torrents, beating on my face;
the road, already bad, became a morass in which I had the
greatest difficulty in walking in boots with spurs; a chestnut
tree near to me was struck by lighting.... No matter, I walked on
with stoic resignation. But, behold....! In the midst of the
storm I saw coming toward me two mounted gendarmes. You can
easily imagine how I looked after paddling for two hours in the
mud, dressed in my cotton breeches and dolman. The gendarmes
belonged to the station at Peyrehorade, to which they were
returning, but it seemed that they had lunched very well at
Orthez, for they were somewhat drunk. The older of the two asked
me for my papers; I gave him my travel permit, on which I was
described as a sous-lieutenant of the 25th Chasseurs. "You! A
sous-lieutenant?" shouted the gendarme, "you're too young to be
an officer!" But read the description," I said, "and you will
see that it says that I am not yet twenty years old. It is exact
in every point." "That may be," he replied, "but it is a forgery;
and the proof of that is that the Chasseur's uniform is green and
you are wearing a yellow dolman. You are an escaped conscript,
and I am arresting you." "All right," I said, "but when we get to
Orthez and I see your lieutenant, I can easily prove that I am an
officer and that this travel document is genuine."

I was not much worried by this arrest; but now the older gendarme
said that he did not intend to go to Orthez. He belonged to the
station at Peyrehorade, and I must follow him there. I said that
I would do nothing of the kind, and that he could require this
only if I had no papers, but as I had shown him my travel permit,
he had no right to make me go back, and that it was his duty,
according to the regulations, to accompany me to my destination,
which was Orthez.

The younger gendarme, who was less full of wine, said that I was
right. A lively dispute then broke out between the two of them.
They hurled insults at one another and in the middle of the
tempest which was all around us, they drew their sabres and
charged furiously together. I was afraid I might be injured in
this ridiculous combat, so I got into one of the huge ditches
which ran along each side of the road, and although I was in
water up to my waist, I climbed up onto the bordering field, from
where I watched the two warriors skirmishing to get the better of
one another.

Fortunately, the heavy, wet cloaks which they were wearing clung
round their arms, and the horses, frightened by the thunder,
would not go near each other, so that the riders could manage
only a few ill directed blows. Eventually the older gendarme's
horse fell, and he landed in the ditch. When he got out,covered
in mire, he found that his saddle was broken and that he would
have to continue his journey on foot; so he set out, after
telling his companion that he was now responsible for the
prisoner. Left alone with the more sensible of the two gendarmes,
I pointed out to him that if I had anything to hide, it would be
easy for me to make off into the country, as there was a large
ditch between us which his horse could not cross, but that I
would surrender myself to him since he had agreed not to make me
go back. So I continued on my way, escorted by the gendarme, who
was beginning to sober up. We had some conversation, and it
became apparent that the fact that I had surrendered, when it
would have been easy for me to run away, made him begin to think
that I might be what I said I was. He would have let me go had he
not been put in charge of me by his companion. He became more and
more accommodating, and said he would not take me all the way to
Orthez, but would consult the Mayor of Puyoo, which we were going
to pass through.

My arrival was that of a malefactor: all the villagers, who had
been driven back to the village by the storm, were at their doors
and windows to see the criminal in the charge of the gendarme;
however, the Mayor of Puyoo was a good, stout, sensible peasant,
whom we found in his barn, threshing corn. As soon as he had read
my travel permit, he said, gravely, to the gendarme, "Set this
young man at liberty at once. You have no right to arrest him. An
officer on a journey is designated by his documents, not by his
clothes." Could Solomon have produced a better judgement? The
good peasant did not stop at that, he wanted me to stay with him
until the storm had passed and he offered me food. Then, while we
were talking, he told me that he had once seen at Orthez a
general whose name was Marbot. I told him that this was my
father, and described him. Then the good man, whose name was
Bordenave became even more solicitous and wanted to dry my
clothes and offered me a bed for the night; but I thanked him and
went on my way to Orthez, where I arrived at nightfall,
completely worn out. The next day it was only with great
difficulty that I could put my boots on, partly because they were
wet and partly because my feet were swollen.

However I managed to drag myself as far as Pau, and being unable
to go any further, I stayed there all day. I could find no other
means of transport but the mail coach, and although the seats
were very expensive, I took one as far as Gimont, where I was
welcomed with open arms by M. Dorignac, a friend of my father,
with whom I had spent several months after I left Soreze. I
rested for a few days with his family, then I took a stage-coach
to Toulouse. I had spent four times the cost of the seat which I
had lost through the negligence of the hotel porter at Bayonne.

On my arrival at Toulouse I was going to look around for
somewhere to live, but the colonel told me that he had arranged a
place for me with one of his friends, an elderly doctor named M.
Merlhes, whose name I shall never forget, because this worthy man
and his numerous offspring were so good to me. During the two
weeks I stayed with them, I was treated as a member of the family
rather than as a boarder.

The regiment was up to strength and well mounted. We had many
exercises which I found very interesting; though I sometimes
found myself up before squadron commander Blancheville, an
excellent officer, an old soldier from whom I learned to work
with precision, and I owe much to him. Blancheville, before the
revolution, had been on the staff of the gendarmes of Luneville.
He was very well educated and took a great interest in young
officers whom he thought capable of learning, and compelled them
to study whether they liked it or not. As for the others, whom he
called the block-heads, he simply shrugged his shoulders when
they did not know their drill or made mistakes during exercises,
but he never punished them for it. There were two or three
sous-lieutenants whom he had picked out, they were MM. Gavoille,
Dumonts and me. In our case he would not suffer an incorrectly
given order, and punished us for the slightest mistake. As he was
a very good fellow, when off duty we risked asking him why he
treated us so severely. "Do you think I am so stupid that I would
try to wash a black man white?" He replied, "Messers so and so
are too old and lacking in talent to make it worth my while to
try to improve them. As for you who have all that is required to
succeed, you need to study, and study you shall!" I have never
forgotten this reply, and I made use of it when I became a
colonel. In fact old Blancheville had drawn our horoscopes
accurately, Gavoille became a lieutenant-colonel, Dumonts a
brigadier-general and I a divisional general.

On my arrival at Toulouse, I had exchanged the horse which I had
bought in Spain for a delightful mount from Navarre. Now, it so
happened that the prefect had arranged a race meeting in
celebration of some fte or other, and Gavoille, who was a great
lover of racing, had persuaded me to enter my horse. One day,
when I was exercising my horse on a grass track, as he took a
tight curve at full speed, he collided with the projecting wall
of a garden and fell stone dead. My companions thought I had
been killed or at least seriously injured, but by a miraculous
piece of good luck I was unhurt. When I had been picked up, and
saw my poor horse lying motionless, I was very upset, and went
back sadly to my billet, where I confronted the realisation that
I would have to buy another horse, and would have to ask my
mother for the money to do so, although I knew she was very

Comte Defermon, a minister of state and one of our trustees, was
opposed to the sale of those properties which still belonged to
us, because he foresaw that peace would increase the value of
land. He considered, rightly, that they should be retained and
creditors paid off gradually by rigid economy. This is one of the
greatest obligations we owe to the good M. Defermon, the most
sincere of my father's friends, and one for whose memory I have
the deepest respect.

When my request for money to buy a new horse was submitted to the
council of trustees, General Bernadotte, who was one of them,
burst out laughing, saying that it was a good try and that the
excuse was well chosen, and suggesting that my application was
what now-a-days would be called a "con", but, fortunately my
request was backed up by a letter from the colonel, and M.
Defermon stated that he did not believe me capable of trying to
obtain money by trickery. He was quite right in this, for
although I had an allowance of only 600 francs, my pay of just 95
francs a month and a lodging allowance of 12 francs, I never had
a penny of debt; something I have always regarded with horror.

I bought a new horse, which was not as good as the Navarrais, but
the general inspections, which had been reintroduced by the First
Consul, were approaching, and it was essential that I was quickly
remounted, the more so because we were to be inspected by General
Bourcier, who had the reputation of being a stern disciplinarian.

I was detailed to go with thirty men to form an escort for him.
He welcomed me warmly and spoke of my father, whom he had known
well, which, however, did not prevent him from putting me on a
charge the following day. The way in which this came about is
quite amusing.

One of our captains, named B***, was a very good-looking lad, and
would have been one of the most handsome men in the army if his
calves had been in harmony with the rest of his person; but his
legs were like stilts, which looked very odd in the tight
breeches, called Hungarians, which were then worn by the
Chasseurs. To get over this blemish, Captain B*** had acquired
pads made in the shape of calves, which completed his fine
appearance. You will see how these calves got me into trouble,
but they were not the only cause.

The regulations laid down that the tails of officer's horses
should be left flowing, as were the tails of the trooper's
horses. Our colonel, M. Moreau, was always perfectly mounted,
but all his horses had their tails cut, and as he feared that
General Bourcier--a stickler for the rules--would take him to
task for setting a bad example to his officers, he had, for the
time of the inspection, had false tails fitted to his horses
which were so realistic that, unless one knew, one would think
them natural. This was all very fine. We went on manoeuvres, to
which General Bourcier had invited General Suchet, the inspector
of infantry, and General Gudin, the commander of the territorial
division, and was accompanied by a numerous and brilliant staff.

The exercises were very long. Almost all the movements, carried
out at the gallop, ended with several charges at top speed. I was
in command of a section in the centre of Captain B***'s squadron,
and it was next to the captain that the colonel took up his
position. They were therefore a couple of paces in front of me
when the generals came to congratulate Colonel Moreau on the fine
performance of his troops. But what did I then see?.... The
extreme rapidity of the movements had deranged the accessories
added to the turn-out of both the colonel and Captain B***; the
false tail of the colonel's horse had come adrift, the centre
part, made of a pad of tow, was hanging down nearly to the ground
and the hairs were spread over the horse's crupper in a sort of
peacock's tail. As for Captain B***'s calves, they had slipped
round to the front, and could be seen as large lumps on his
shins, which produced a somewhat bizarre effect, while the
captain sat up proudly on his horse, as if to say "Look at me!
See how handsome I am!"

One has little gravity at the age of twenty. Mine was unable to
resist the grotesque spectacle in front of me, and in spite of
the presence of no less than three generals, I was unable to stop
myself from bursting into laughter, however much I tried. The
inspecting general, not knowing the reason for my hilarity,
called me out of the ranks to reprimand me, but to reach him I
had to pass between the colonel and Captain B***, and my eyes
were once more directed to this cursed tail and the new calves
sported by the captain, and I again burst out laughing. I was
then put under open arrest. The generals must have thought I was
crazy, but as soon as they had gone, the officers of the regiment
gathered round the colonel and Captain B***, and soon realised
what had happened. They laughed as I had done, but in easier

In the evening, the commandant Blancheville attended a reception
given by Madame Gudin. General Bourcier, who was also there,
having brought up the subject of what he called my escapade, M.
Blancheville explained the reasons for my unseemly laughter, an
explanation which gave rise to much amusement. The laughter was
increased by the entry of Captain B***, who having adjusted his
false calves, had come to display himself in this brilliant
society, without suspecting that he was one of the reasons for
their hilarity. General Bourcier, appreciating that if he could
not help laughing at a description of the sight which had greeted
my eyes, it was natural enough that a young sous-lieutenant could
not contain himself when confronted with this ridiculous
spectacle, cancelled my arrest and sent someone to look for me.
My arrival rekindled the laughter, which was increased by the
sight of Captain B***, who alone was unaware of the cause, going
from person to person asking what it was all about, while
everyone gazed at his calves.

Chap. 17.

Let us now turn to more serious matters. The Treaty of Luneville
had been followed by the Peace of Amiens, which put an end to the
war between France and England. The First Consul decided to
profit from the tranquility of Europe and the freedom of the sea
to despatch a large body of troops to Dominica, which he wished
to recover from the control of the blacks led by
Toussaint-Louverture, a man who, without being in open revolt
against the French, nevertheless adopted an air of great
independence. General Leclerc was to be in command of this
expedition. This general was a capable officer who had fought
successfully in Egypt and Italy; but his principal distinction
was that he had married Pauline Bonaparte, the First Consul's
sister. Leclerc was the son of a miller from Pontoise, if one can
describe as a miller, a very rich mill owner who had a
considerable business. The miller had given the best of
educations to his son and also to his daughter, who married
General Davout.

While General Leclerc was preparing for his departure, the First
Consul concentrated in Brittany those troops which he had
earmarked for the expedition, and these troops naturally came
under the command of the commander-in-chief of the area, which
was Bernadotte.

It is well known that there was always a great rivalry between
the troops of the Rhine army and those of the army of Italy. The
former were greatly attached to General Moreau, and did not care
for General Bonaparte, whose elevation to the head of government
they had witnessed with regret. For his part, the First Consul
had a great liking for the soldiers who had fought with him in
Italy and Egypt, and, although the breach with Moreau was not yet
openly declared, he considered that it would be in his interest
to remove to as far away as possible troops devoted to this
general. In consequence, the troops selected for the expedition
to Dominica were almost all taken from the army of the Rhine.
These men, however were perfectly happy to find themselves in
Brittany, under the command of Bernadotte, a former lieutenant of
Moreau's who had almost always served with them on the Rhine.

The expeditionary force was to comprise eventually some forty
thousand men. The army of the west proper consisted of a similar
number, so that Bernadotte, whose command extended to cover all
the departments between the mouth of the Gironde and that of the
Seine, had for a time under his orders an army of eighty thousand
men, of whom the majority were more attached to him than to the
head of the consular government.

If General Bernadotte had had more strength of character, the
First Consul would have regretted putting him in such a powerful
position; for I can say today, as an historical fact which will
harm no one, that Bernadotte plotted against the government of
which Bonaparte was the head. I shall give some details about
this conspiracy which were never known to the public, and perhaps
not even to General Bonaparte himself.

Generals Bernadotte and Moreau, jealous of the elevated position
of the First Consul, and dissatisfied with the small part he gave
them in public affairs, had resolved to overthrow him, and place
themselves at the head of the government in conjunction with a
civil administrator or an enlightened magistrate. To achieve this
aim, Bernadotte, who, it must be said, had a talent for making
himself liked by both officers and men, went about the provinces
of his command, reviewing troops and using every means to
increase their attachment to him. Enticements of all sorts,
money, promises of promotion, were employed among the junior
officers, while secretly he denigrated the government of the
First Consul to the seniors. Having sown disaffection amongst
most of the regiments, it would not have been difficult to push
them into revolt; particularly those destined for the
expeditionary force, who regarded it as a sort of deportation.

Bernadotte had as chief of staff Brigadier-general Simon, a
competent but rather colourless officer. His rank put him in a
position to correspond daily with unit commanders, and he used it
to make his office the centre of the conspiracy. A battalion
commander named Foucart was at that time attached to General
Simon, who made him his principal agent. Foucart, using the
excuse of official duties, travelled from garrison to garrison
organising a secret league, which was joined by almost all the
colonels and a crowd of senior officers, who were turned against
the First Consul by accusations that he aspired to royalty;
something, it seems, that he had not yet considered.

It was agreed that the garrison of Rennes, composed of several
regiments, would begin the movement, which would spread like a
trail of gunpowder into all divisions of the army: and as it was
necessary that in this garrison there should be one unit which
would start things off and get the rest moving, the 82nd Line
regiment was brought to Rennes. This regiment was commanded by
Colonel Pinoteau, an energetic and capable man, very brave, but
something of a hothead, although he appeared outwardly
phlegmatic. He was a follower of Bernadotte and one of the most
enthusiastic of the conspirators. He promised to deliver his
regiment, where he was extremely popular.

Everything was ready for the explosion when Bernadotte, lacking
resolve and aiming, like a true Gascon, to have a catspaw to pull
his chestnuts from the fire, persuaded General Simon and the
other principal conspirators that it was essential that he should
be in Paris when the army of Brittany proclaimed the deposition
of the consul, so that he would be in a position to seize
immediately the reins of government, in association with General
Moreau, with whom he was going to confer about the matter. In
reality, Bernadotte wished not to be compromised if the attempt
failed, while maintaining himself in a position to take advantage
of any success, and General Simon and the other conspirators were
blind enough not to see through this ruse. The day of the armed
uprising was then agreed, but the man who should have led it,
because he had organised it, had cunningly absented himself.

Before Bernadotte left for Paris, a proclamation had been drawn
up, addressed to the people of France as well as to the army.
Several thousand copies of this were to be stuck up on the day of
the event. A bookseller in Rennes, introduced by General Simon
and by Foucart into the conspiracy, had undertaken to print this
proclamation himself. This ensured that the proclamation would be
ready for use in Brittany, but Bernadotte wanted to have a large
number of these posters in Paris, for it was important to spread
them throughout the capital and to send them to all the provinces
as soon as the army of the west had made its move against the
government, and as there was a risk of discovery if an approach
was made to a Paris printer, Bernadotte devised a method of
acquiring a large number of posters without compromising himself.
He told my brother Adolphe, who was his aide-de-camp, that he was
authorised to accompany him to Paris, and that he was to bring
his horse and his carriage in anticipation of a long stay. My
brother was delighted, and having packed his personal effects
into the lockers of the carriage, he instructed his servant to
bring the carriage, unhurriedly, to Paris while he went there by

As soon as my brother had left, General Simon and Commandant
Foucart, delaying, under some pretext or other, the departure of
my brother's servant, opened the carriage lockers and took out
the personal possessions, which they replaced by packets of the
proclamation. Then, having closed everything up, they sent poor
Joseph on his way, without any suspicion of what he was carrying.

However, the First Consul's police had got wind of something
brewing in the army of Brittany, but without knowing exactly what
was going on or who was involved. The minister of police thought
it was his duty to inform the prefect of Rennes who was a M.
Mounier, and by the most extraordinary chance the prefect
received this despatch on the very day when the revolt was due to
break out, during a parade at Rennes, at mid-day. It was now

The prefect, to whom the minister had given no positive
information, thought that in order to obtain some, he could do no
better,in the absence of the commanding general, than to consult
his chief of staff. He therefore asked General Simon to come to
his office, and showed him the ministerial despatch. General
Simon, believing that all had been discovered, then foolishly
lost his head.

He told the prefect that there was indeed a vast conspiracy in
the army, in which he had, unfortunately, played a part, of which
he now repented; and thereupon he disclosed all the plans of the
conspirators, and named the leaders; adding that in a few minutes
the troops gathered on the parade ground, at a signal from
General Pinoteau, were going to proclaim the overthrow of the
consular government!

You may imagine M. Mounier's astonishment, and the concern he
felt at being in the presence of a culpable general who, though
at first thrown into confusion, might recover himself and
recollect that he had eighty thousand men under his command, of
whom eight to ten thousand were at this moment gathered not far
from the prefecture. The position in which M. Mounier found
himself was critical, but he extricated himself adroitly.

The general commanding the gendarmerie, Virion, had been ordered
by the government to put together at Rennes a body of unmounted
gendarmes, for the formation of which every regiment had supplied
some Grenadiers. These soldiers, having no unifying bonds,
escaped, in consequence, from the influence of the colonels of
the regiments, and recognised only the orders of their new
leaders, those of the gendarmerie who, in accordance with the
regulations, obeyed the instructions of the prefect. M. Mounier
now sent for General Virion, telling him to bring all the
gendarmes. Meanwhile, fearing that General Simon might change his
mind and leave him to go and place himself at the head of his
troops, he soothed him with honeyed words, assuring him that his
repentance and his confession would mitigate his offence in the
eyes of the First Consul, and persuaded him to hand over his
sword and go to the Tour Labat with the gendarmes who had at that
moment arrived in the courtyard. So now the prime mover in the
revolt was in prison.

While this was going on at the prefecture, the troops assembled
at the Place D'armes were awaiting the hour of the parade which
would also be that of the beginning of the revolt. All the
colonels were in the secret, and had promised their support
except the commander of the 79th, M. Goddard, who it was hoped
would follow the rest.

From what a slender thread hangs the destiny of empires!
Pinoteau, a strong and determined man, was due to give the signal
which his regiment, the 82nd, already drawn up in battle
formation on the square, was impatiently awaiting; but Pinoteau,
with Foucart, had been busy all morning arranging for the
despatch of proclamations, and in their preoccupation he had
forgotten to shave. Mid-day arrived. Colonel Pinoteau realising
that he was unshaven, hurried to put this right; but while he was
engaged in this operation, General Virion, escorted by a large
number of gendarmes, burst into the room, seized his sword and
declared him a prisoner. He was taken to the tower to join
General Simon. A few minutes later and Colonel Pinoteau would
have been at the head of ten thousand men, and would undoubtedly
have succeeded in starting the revolt. But taken thus by surprise
he could do nothing but surrender to force.

Having made this second arrest, Virion and the prefect sent an
aide-de-camp to the parade ground to tell Colonel Goddard of the
79th that they had a communication for him from the First Consul.
As soon as he arrived, they told him of the discovery of the
conspiracy and the arrest of General Simon and Colonel Pinoteau,
and persuaded him to unite with them in putting down the
rebellion. Having agreed to this, Colonel Goddard returned to the
parade ground without telling anyone what he had learned, and
taking his battalion to the Tour Labat, he joined the battalion
of gendarmes who were guarding it. Also there were the prefect
and General Virion, who arranged for ammunition to be distributed
to the loyal troops. They then awaited events.

Meanwhile, the officers of the regiments which were assembled on
the parade ground, surprised at the sudden departure of the 79th,
and not understanding why General Pinoteau was late, sent to his
home, where they were told that he had been arrested and sent to
the tower. They were told at the same time of the arrest of
General Simon.

This put the cat among the pigeons. The officers of the various
units got together; Commandant Foucart proposed that they should
march immediately to free the two prisoners and carry on with the
movement. This suggestion was received with acclamation,
particularly from the 82nd, who worshipped Colonel Pinoteau. They
hurried to the Tour Labat, but found it surrounded by four
thousand gendarmes and the battalion of the 79th. The assailants
were undoubtedly the more numerous, but they had no ammunition
and if they had had any, many of them would have been reluctant
to fire on their comrades, simply to make a change in the members
of the government. General Virion and the Prefect addressed them
and urged them to return to their duty. The soldiers hesitated,
and seeing this, none of the officers dared to order a bayonet
attack, which was the only action which remained possible.
Gradually the regiments stood down, and returned one by one to
their barracks. Commandant Foucart, left alone, was taken to the
tower, along with the unfortunate printer.

On learning that the insurrection at Rennes had failed, all the
officers of the other regiments of the army of Brittany disavowed
it; but the First Consul was not taken in by their protestations,
he brought forward the date of their embarkation for Dominica and
the other islands of the Antilles, where nearly all of them died,
either in the fighting or of yellow fever.

As soon as he had heard the first confessions of General Simon
and before the situation was fully under control, M. Mounier had
sent a despatch rider to the government, and the First Consul now
considered whether he should have Bernadotte and Moreau arrested.
However, he suspended this measure for lack of any evidence, and
to get hold of some, he ordered the examination of any travellers
coming from Brittany.

While all this was going on, the good Joseph arrived at
Versailles in my brother's carriage, and much to his surprise,
found himself seized by the gendarmerie, and, in spite of his
protests, brought before the minister of police. On learning that
the carriage which this man was driving belonged to one of
Bernadotte's aides-de-camp, the minister, Fouche, had all the
lockers searched and found them full of proclamations, in which
Bernadotte and Moreau, after denouncing the First Consul in
violent terms announced his fall and their accession to power.

Bonaparte, furious with these two officers, demanded their
presence. Moreau told him that as he, Moreau,had no authority
over the army of the west, he would accept no responsibility for
the conduct of the regiments of which it was composed; and one
has to admit that this was a valid objection. It however worsened
the position of Bernadotte, who, as commander-in-chief of the
troops assembled in Brittany, was responsible for maintaining
good order and discipline amongst them; but not only had his army
engaged in conspiracy, but his chief-of-staff was a leader in the
enterprise. The rebel proclamations bore Bernadotte's signature,
and more than one thousand copies of this document had just been
found in a carriage belonging to his aide-de-camp. The First
Consul thought that such evident proofs would flatten and
confound Bernadotte; but he was dealing with a true Gascon, as
devious as they come!

Bernadotte expressed surprise...indignation! He knew
nothing...absolutely nothing! General Simon was a villain and so
was Pinoteau! He defied anyone to produce the original
proclamation bearing his signature! Was it his fault if some
lunatic had arranged for his name to be printed at the foot of a
proclamation which he utterly and completely rejected. As for the
wicked originators of all these plots, he would be the first to
demand their punishment.

Bernadotte had indeed contrived to get everything directed by
General Simon, without giving him a single word in writing which
might compromise himself, and had left himself in a position in
which he could deny everything if, in the event of the plot
failing, General Simon should accuse him of being a participant.
The First Consul, though convinced of Bernadotte's guilt, had no
solid evidence to go on, and his council of ministers concluded
that it would not be feasible to bring charges against a general
who was so popular in the country and the army. Sadly, these sort
of considerations did not apply to my brother Adolphe. One fine
night they came to my mother's house to arrest him, and this at a
time when the poor woman was already overburdened with grief.

M. de Canrobert, her eldest brother, whom she had managed to have
taken off the list of emigres, was living peaceably with her when
he was picked out by a policeman as having been present at some
gathering whose aim was the restoration of the previous
government. He was taken to the Temple Prison, where he was
detained for eleven months. My mother was taking every possible
step to prove his innocence and obtain his liberty when she was
struck by another terrible disaster.

My two younger brothers were pupils at the French Military
School. This establishment had a huge park and a fine country
house in the village of Vanves, not far from the banks of the
Seine; and in the summer the pupils went there to pass some of
their holidays, when those who had behaved well were allowed to
bathe in the river. Now it so happened that, because of some
student peccadillo, the headmaster had deprived the whole school
of the pleasure of swimming; however my brother Theodore loved
swimming, so he and some of his friends decided to go swimming
without the knowledge of their masters. While the pupils were
spread about the park playing, they went to an isolated spot
where they climbed over the wall and, on a very hot day, they ran
to the Seine, into which they jumped, bathed in perspiration.
They were scarcely in the water, however, when they heard the
college drum beating for dinner. Fearing that their escapade
would be discovered by their absence from the refectory, they
dressed hurriedly and rushed back by the way they had come, to
arrive, breathless, at the start of the meal. In such
circumstances, they should have eaten little or nothing, but
schoolboys are heedless, and they ate as much as usual, with the
result that they nearly all became ill. Theodore was particularly
affected, and was taken to my mother's house desperately ill with

It was while she was going from the bedside of her mortally
afflicted son to her brother's prison, that they came to arrest
her first-born. An appalling situation for any mother. To make
matters worse, poor Theodore died. He was eighteen years old,
charming and handsome. I was desolated to hear of his death, for
I was very fond of him. These dreadful misfortunes which, one
after another, assailed my mother, impelled those who were my
father's true friends to exert themselves on her behalf. A
leading figure among them was M. Defermon, who worked almost
daily with the First Consul, and who rarely failed to intercede
for Adolphe and his widowed mother. Eventually, General Bonaparte
said to him one day, that although he had a low opinion of
Bernadotte's common sense, he did not believe that he was so
lacking in judgement that in conspiring against the government,
he would take into his confidence a twenty-one year old
lieutenant; and besides that, General Simon had stated that it
was he and Commandant Foucart who had put the proclamations in
young Marbot's carriage, so that, if he was to blame at all, it
was only to a very small extent. However, he, the First Consul,
was not willing to release the aide-de-camp until Bernadotte came
in person to ask him to do so.

When she heard of this decision taken by the First Consul, my
mother hastened to Bernadotte's house and begged him to take the
necessary step. He promised solemnly to do but the days and weeks
rolled past without him doing anything. Eventually, he said to my
mother, "What you are asKing of me will be extremely painful, but
no matter, I owe this to the memory of your husband, as well as
to the interest I have in your children. I shall go this very
evening to see the First Consul and I shall call at your house
after leaving the Tuileries. I am certain I shall be able to
announce the release of your son."

One can imagine with what impatience my mother waited during this
long day! Every coach she heard made her heart beat. But at last
it struck eleven o'clock and Bernadotte had not appeared. My
mother then went round to his house, and what do you suppose she
was told?....That General Bernadotte and his wife had left, to
take the waters at Plombieres, and would not be back for two
months! In spite of his promises, Bernadotte had left Paris
without seeing the First Consul. Devastated, my mother wrote to
General Bonaparte. M. Defermon, who undertook to deliver the
letter, was so indignant at the conduct of General Bernadotte
that he could not resist telling the First Consul how he had
behaved toward us. "That," said the First Consul, "is the sort of
thing I would expect!"

M. Defermon, Generals Mortier, Lefebvre and Murat then urged that
my brother should be freed; observing that if he had been unaware
of the conspiracy, it was unjust to keep him in prison, and even
if he had known something about it, he could not be expected to
carry tales about Bernadotte, whose aide-de-camp he was. This
reasoning impressed the First Consul, who set my brother at
liberty and sent him to Cherbourg, to join the 49th Line
regiment, as he did not wish him to continue as aide-de-camp to

Bonaparte, who had a very long memory, probably had engraved,
somewhere in his head, the words, "Marbot. Aide-de-camp of
Bernadotte. Conspiracy of Rennes." So my brother was never again
looked on with favour, and some time later he was sent to

Adolphe had spent a month in prison; Commandant Foucart was there
for a year. He was cashiered and ordered to leave France. He took
refuge in Holland, where he lived miserably for thirty years on
earnings from French lessons, which he was reduced to giving, as
he had no personal fortune.

At last, in 1832, he thought to return to his native country, and
during the siege of Anvers I saw, one day, come into my room, a
sort of elderly schoolmaster, very threadbare; it was Foucart, I
recognised him. He told me that he did not have a brass farthing!
While I offered him some assistance, I could not help reflecting
on the bizarre workings of fate. Here was a man who in 1802 was
already a battalion commander, and whose courage and ability
would have certainly carried him to the rank of general, if
Colonel Pinoteau had not decided to shave at the moment when the
conspiracy of Rennes was due to come to a head. I took Foucart to
Marshal Gerard, who also remembered him, and together we
presented him to the Duc d'Orleans, who gave him a job in his
library, at a salary of 2400 francs. He lived there for fifteen

As for General Simon and Colonel Pinoteau, they were imprisoned
in the Isle de Re for five or six years. Eventually, Bonaparte,
having become Emperor, set them free. Pinoteau had been
vegetating for some time in Rufec, his birthplace, when, in 1808,
the Emperor, who was on his way to Spain, having stopped there to
change horses, Pinoteau presented himself boldly before him and
requested to be re-engaged in military service. The Emperor, who
knew that he was an excellent officer, then placed him in command
of a regiment, which he led faultlessly throughout the wars in
Spain, so that after several campaigns, he was promoted to the
rank of brigadier-general.

General Simon also returned to military service. He was in
command of an infantry brigade in Massena's army when we invaded
Portugal. At the battle of Busaco, where Massena made the mistake
of mounting a frontal attack on the Duke of Wellington's army,
which was in position on the heights of a mountain with a very
difficult approach, Poor Simon, wishing, no doubt, to redeem
himself and to make up for the time he had lost towards
promotion, charged bravely at the head of his brigade, overcame
every obstacle, clambered up the rocks under a hail of bullets,
broke through the English line and was first into the enemy
entrenchments. But, there, a bullet fired at close range
shattered his jaw at the moment when the English second line
drove back our troops, who were thrown down into the valley with
considerable losses. The enemy found the unfortunate general
lying in the redout among the dead and dying. His face was hardly
recognisable as human. Wellington treated him with much respect,
and as soon as he could be moved, he sent him to England as a
prisoner of war. He was later permitted to return to France. But
his terrible injury barred him from any further service. The
Emperor gave him a pension, and one heard no more of him.

Chap. 18.

After the unhappy events which had just befallen her, my mother
longed to re-unite her three remaining sons around her. My
brother, having been ordered to join the expeditionary force
which was being sent to India under the command of General
Decaen, was given permission to spend two months with my mother;
Felix was at the Military School, and a piece of good fortune
brought me also to Paris.

The School of Cavalry was then at Versailles; every regiment sent
there an officer and a non-commissioned officer, who, after
completing their studies, returned to their unit to act as
instructors. Now it so happened that at the moment when I was
about to ask for permission to go to Paris, the lieutenant who
had been at the School had completed the course, and the colonel
proposed to send me to replace him. I accepted this with
pleasure, for not only would it allow me to see my mother again,
but it would ensure that for eighteen months I would be living
only a short distance from her.

My preparations were soon made. I sold my horse and taking the
stage-coach, I left the 25th Chasseurs, to which I was never to
return; although not being aware of this at the time, my
farewells to my comrades were lighthearted.

On my arrival in Paris, I found my mother greatly upset, not only
on account of the cruel loss which we had just suffered, but also
over the imminent departure of Adolphe for India, and the
detention of my uncle Canrobert, which continued indefinitely.

We spent a month together as a family, at the end of which my
elder brother had to report to Brest, where he was soon embarked
for Pondichery in the "Marengo." As for me, I went to settle in
at the School of Cavalry, whose barracks were in the great
stables of Versailles.

I was lodged on the first floor, in apartments which had once
been occupied by the Prince de Lambesc, the master of horse. I
had a very big bedroom and an immense "salon" which looked out
over the Avenue de Paris and the parade-ground. I was at first
astonished that the most recently arrived pupil should be so well
housed, but I soon learned that no one wanted this apartment
because its huge size made it glacially cold, and few of the
officer pupils could afford to keep a fire going. Happily I was
not entirely without means. I had a good stove put in, and with a
big screen, I made in this vast apartment a little room, which I
furnished modestly, since all we were issued with was a table, a
bed, and two chairs, which were quite out of place in the
enormous space of my quarters. So I made myself reasonably
comfortable until the return of spring, when the place seemed
quite charming.

Although we were called pupils, you should not suppose that we
were treated as students. We were allowed every freedom, too much
freedom in fact. We were commanded by an old colonel, M. Maurice,
whom we hardly ever saw, and who did not take part in anything.
On three days in the week we had civilian horsemanship, under the
celebrated equestrians Jardin and Coupe, and we went there when
it suited us. In the afternoon, an excellent veterinarian, M.
Valois, ran a course on the care of horses; but no one compelled
us to study with any diligence. The other three days were devoted
to military matters. In the morning, military horsemanship,
taught by the only two captains in the school, and in the
afternoon, drill, also taught by them. Once this parade was
finished, the captains disappeared and each student went his own

You will appreciate that it took a keen desire to learn, to get
anywhere in a school so badly run; however most of the students
made progress because, being destined to become instructors in
their respective regiments, their self-respect made them fear not
being up to the task. So they worked reasonably hard, but not as
hard as one would as a schoolboy. As for behaviour, the staff
took no interest in it. As long as the students caused no trouble
in the establishment itself, they were allowed to do as they
pleased. They came and went at all hours. They were subject to no
role call. They ate in hotels, if it suited them, slept out, and
even went to Paris without asking permission. The
non-commissioned pupils had a little less liberty. Two
moderately strict sergeants were in charge of them, who insisted
that they were back by ten o'clock at night.

Each of us wore the uniform of his regiment, so that a gathering
of the whole school presented an interesting sight, as when, on
the first day of every month, we paraded in full dress in order
to draw up the pay roll; then you could see the uniforms of all
the French cavalry regiments.

As all these officers belonged to different units, and were
thrown together only for the duration of the course, there could
not exist between them the close fellowship which is one of the
features of regimental life. We were too numerous (ninety) for
there to be a bond between all. There were coteries but no union.
I did not feel any need to socialise with my new comrades. I left
every Saturday for Paris, where I spent the next day and most of
Monday with my mother. There were at Versailles two old friends
of my mother, from Rennes; the Comtesses de Chateauville, a pair
of very respectable and well educated elderly ladies, who
entertained only a select society. I went two or three times a
week to spend an evening with them. The remaining evenings I
employed in reading, which I have always greatly enjoyed, for if
school sets a man on the road to education, he must get there by
himself through reading. How pleasant it was, in the midst of a
very harsh winter, to come back to my quarters after dinner, make
up a good fire and there, alone, ensconced behind my screen and
beside my little lamp, to read until eight or nine o'clock; then
to go to bed, in order to save wood, and continue reading to
midnight. In this way I re-read Tacitus and Xenophon and many of
the classical Greek and Roman authors; I revised the history of
Rome and of France, and the principle countries of Europe. My
time, shared between my mother, my work at the school, a little
good society and my beloved books, passed very agreeably.

I began the year 1803 at Versailles. Spring introduced some
changes into my way of life. Each of the officers at the school
was provided with a horse, so I devoted some of my evenings to
taking long rides in the magnificent woods which surround
Versailles, Marly, and Meudon.

During May, my mother was made very happy by the release of her
eldest brother from the Temple prison, and the return to France
of the other two, de l'Isle and de la Coste, who, having been
struck off the list of emigres came to Paris.

The eldest of my mother's brothers, M. de Canrobert was a very
pleasant, sensible man. He entered the service at a very young
age, as a sous-lieutenant in the infantry of Ponthievre, and,
under Lieutenant-general De Vaux, fought in all the campaigns of
the war in Corsica, in which he distinguished himself. After the
conquest of that country, he served out the twenty-four years
which earned him the Cross of St. Louis. He was a captain when he
married Mlle. Sanguinet and then retired to the Chateau of Laval
de Cere.

Having become the father of a son and a daughter, M. de Canrobert
was living happily in his manor when the revolution broke out in
1789. He was forced to emigrate to escape the scaffold, with
which he was threatened, all his possessions were confiscated and
sold, his wife was imprisoned with her two young children. My
mother obtained permission to visit her unhappy sister-in-law,
and found her in a cold, damp tower, stricken by a fever, which
carried off, that very day, her young daughter. By dint of
requests and supplications, my mother managed to obtain the
release of her sister-in-law; but she died a few days later from
the illness she had contracted in prison. My mother then took
charge of the young boy, named Antoine. He was sent in turn to
college and then to the military school, where he was one of
their brightest pupils. Finally he became an infantry officer and
was killed, bravely, on the field of battle, at Waterloo. My
uncle was one of the first of the emigres who, under the
consulate, were given permission to return to France. He
recovered some part of his estate, and married again, this time
to one of the daughters of M. Niocel, an old friend of the

M. Certain de l'Isle, the second of my mother's brothers, was one
of the most handsome men in France. At the time of the revolution
he was a lieutenant in the regiment of Ponthievre, in which were
also serving his elder brother and several of his uncles. He took
the same course as nearly all his comrades and emigrated in
company with his younger brother, Certain de la Coste, who was in
the King's bodyguard. After leaving France the two brothers
stayed always together. They retreated first to the country of
Baden, but their tranquility was soon disturbed: the French
armies crossed the Rhine, and as all emigres who fell into their
clutches were shot, by order of the Convention, the brothers were
forced to hide hurriedly in the interior of Germany. Lack of
money compelled them to travel on foot, which soon became too
much for poor La Coste. They had great difficulty in finding
lodgings, as everywhere was occupied by Austrian troops. La Coste
became ill. His brother supported him. In this way they reached
a little town in Wurtemberg, where they found a bed in a low
class tavern. At daybreak they saw the Austrians leaving, and
they were told that the French were about to occupy the town. La
Coste, unable to move, urged de l'Isle to look to his own safety
and to leave him to the care of Providence; but de l'Isle
declared solemnly that he would not abandon his sick brother.

However two French volunteers arrived at the inn with a
requisition for lodgings. The inn-keeper took them to the room
occupied by my two uncles, whom he told that they would have to
leave. It has been said, quite rightly, that during the
Revolution, the honour of France took refuge in the army. The two
soldiers, seeing that La Coste was ill, told the landlord that
not only did they wish to keep him with them, but that they
wanted a large room which was on the first floor, where they
would establish themselves with my two uncles. In enemy country,
the victor being the master, the inn-keeper obeyed the two French
volunteers, who, during the two weeks in which their battalion
was billeted in the town, took great care of Messers La Coste and
de l'Isle, and even let them share in the good meals which their
host was obliged to provide in accordance with the usages of war;
and this comfortable regime, coupled with rest, restored to some
extent, the health of La Coste.

When they left, the volunteers, who belonged to a battalion from
the Gironde, wishing to give their new friends the means of
passing through the French columns without being arrested, took
from their uniforms the metal buttons which bore the name of
their battalion, and attached them to the civilian clothing worn
by my uncles, who could then pass themselves off as sutlers. With
this new form of passport, they went through all the French
cantonments without rousing any suspicion. They reached Prussia,
and settled down in the town of Hall, where De l'Isle was able to
give French lessons. They lived there peacefully until 1803, when
my mother managed to have them struck of the list of emigres, and
they returned to France after twelve years of exile.

Chap. 19.

Let us now return to Versailles. While I was on the course at the
school of cavalry, great events were under way in Europe. England
having broken the Treaty of Amiens, hostilities recommenced. The
First Consul resolved to take the initiative by leading an army
onto the soil of Great Britain, a daring and difficult
undertaking, but not impossible. To put it into operation,
Napoleon, who had just seized Hanover, the private property of
the English monarchy, stationed on the coasts of the North Sea
and the Channel, several army corps, and ordered the construction
and assembly, at Boulogne and neighbouring ports, of an immense
number of barges and flat-bottomed boats, on which he proposed to
embark his troops.

All the armed forces were set in motion for this war. I regretted
that I was not involved; and being destined to carry back to my
regiment the knowledge I had acquired at the school, I saw myself
condemned to spend several years in the depot with a whip in my
hand, making recruits trot round on elderly horses, while my
comrades were fighting at the head of troops which I had trained.
I did not find this prospect very pleasant, but how was it to be
changed? A regiment must always be fed with recruits, and it was
certain that my colonel, having sent me to the school of cavalry
to learn how to train these recruits, would not deprive himself
of the services which I could render in this respect, and would
keep me out of the fighting squadrons. One day, however, as I was
walking down the Avenue de Paris, with my drill manual in my
hand, I had a brilliant idea, which totally changed my destiny
and contributed greatly to my promotion to the rank which I now

I had just learned that the First Consul, having fallen out with
the court of Lisbon, had ordered the formation, at Bayonne, of an
army corps destined to enter Portugal under the command of
General Augereau. I knew that General Augereau owed some of his
advancement to my father, under whose command he had served in
the camp at Toulouse and in the Pyrenees, and although what I had
experienced at Genoa after the death of my father had not given
me a high opinion of the gratitude of mankind, I resolved to
write to him and, having explained the predicament in which I
found myself, ask him to extricate me by taking me on as one of
his aides-de-camp.

Having written this letter, I sent it to my mother, to see if she
approved. She not only approved, but knowing that Augereau was in
Paris, she decided to take the letter to him herself. Augereau
received the widow of his old friend with the greatest
consideration; he immediately took his carriage and went to the
War Ministry, and that same evening he handed to my mother my
appointment as aide-de-camp. Thus a wish, which twenty-four hours
earlier had seemed a dream, became a reality.

The following day I hurried to Paris to thank the general. He
received me most kindly, and ordered me to join him at Bayonne,
to where he was now going. It was now October, I had completed
the first course at the school of cavalry and had little interest
in starting on the second; so I was happy to leave Versailles,
for I felt sure that I was starting on a new career, much more
advantageous than that of a regimental instructor. I was quite
right in thinking this, for nine years later I was a colonel,
while those I had left at the school had hardly reached the rank
of captain.

I reported promptly to Bayonne and took up my post as an
aide-de-camp to the commander-in-chief. He was installed a
quarter of a league from the town in the fine Chateau de Marac,
in which the Emperor lived some years later. I was made very
welcome by General Augereau and by my new comrades, his
aides-de-camp, nearly all of whom had served under my father.
This general staff, although it did not give to the army as many
general officers as that of Bernadotte, was nevertheless very
well made up. General Danzelot who was the chief-of-staff, was a
highly capable man who later became the governor of the Ionian
islands and then Martinique. His second in command was Colonel
Albert, who at his death was general aide-de-camp to the Duc
d'Orleans. The aides-de-camp were Colonel Sicard, who died at
Heilsberg, Major Brame, who retired to Lille after the Peace of
Tilsit, Major Massy, killed as a colonel at Moscow, Captain
Chevetel and Lieutenant Mainville, the first of whom retired to
his estate in Brittany and the second ended his career in
Bayonne. I was the sixth and youngest of the aides-de-camp.

Finally the staff was completed by Dr. Raymond, who helped me
greatly at Eylau, and Colonel Augereau, a half-brother of the
general; a very quiet man, who later became a lieutenant general.

Chap. 20.

The greater part of the generals who made a name for themselves
in the early wars of the revolution having sprung from the lower
ranks of society, it has been supposed, wrongly, that they had
received no education, and that they owed their success solely to
their fighting ability. Augereau, in particular, has been very
badly judged. He has been represented as boastful, hard, noisy
and nasty. This is an error, for although he had a stormy youth,
and fell into some political misconceptions, he was kind, polite
and affectionate, and I can assure you that of the five marshals
under whom I have served, it was he who did most to lessen the
evils of war, who was most considerate toward the local populace
and who treated his officers best, among whom he lived like a
father among his children. It is true that he had a most
irregular life, but before passing judgement you must consider
the conditions which existed at the time.

Pierre Augereau was born in Paris in 1757. His father had an
extensive business in the fruit trade and had acquired a large
fortune, which allowed him to give his children a good education.

His mother was born in Munich, and she had the good sense to
speak nothing but German to her son, who, as a result spoke it
perfectly; something he found most useful in his travels, and
also during the wars.

Augereau was good-looking, large and well built. He loved all
physical activities, at which he excelled. He was a good horseman
and a fine swordsman. When he was seventeen his mother died, and
one of her brothers who worked in the office of Monsieur (the
king's brother) arranged for him to join the Carabiniers, of whom
Monsieur was colonel in chief.

He spent several years at Saumur, where the Carabiniers were
usually garrisoned, and where his efficiency and good conduct
soon raised him to the rank of sergeant. Sadly, there was at this
time a craze for duels. The reputation which Augereau had as an
excellent swordsman compelled him to engage in several, for it
was a great point among duelists not to accept that anyone was
their superior; gentlemen, officers and soldiers fought for the
most futile of reasons. It so happened that when Augereau was on
leave in Paris, the celebrated fencing master Saint-George,
seeing him pass, said, in the presence of several swordsmen,
there is one of the finest blades in France. Upon this, a
sergeant of Dragoons named Belair, who claimed to be next to
Saint-George in ability, wrote to Augereau saying that he would
challenge him to fight unless he recognised the writer's
superiority. Augereau having replied that he would do nothing of
the sort, they met on the Champs-Elysees where Belair received a
penetrating sword-thrust. He subsequently recovered and having
left the service, he married and became the father of eight
children, for whom he was unable to provide. So in the first days
of the Empire it occurred to him to approach his old adversary,
now a marshal. This man, whom I knew, was something of an
original character; he presented himself before Augereau with a
little violin under his arm, and said that as he had nothing to
give his eight children for dinner, he would make them dance a
quadrille to cheer them up, unless the marshal could put him in
the way of providing a more substantial meal. Augereau recognised
Belair, invited him to a meal, gave him some money and a few days
later arranged for him to have a good job in the transport
department. He also placed two of his sons in school. Conduct
which requires no commentary.

Not all the duels which Augereau fought ended like this. As a
result of an absurd custom, there existed an inveterate hatred
between some units, the cause for which was buried in the past
and often hardly known, but which, handed down from age to age,
resulted in duels every time the units met. In this way the
Gendarmes of Luneville and the Carabiniers had been at war for
half a century, though they had not seen one another in this long
period of time. At last, at the beginning of the reign of Louis
XVI, they found themselves in the same camp at Compiegne;
whereupon, to show themselves no less brave than their
forefathers, the Carabiniers and the Gendarmes decided to fight,
and their determination was such that the officers thought it
wiser to look the other way. However, to avoid too much
bloodshed, it was agreed that there would be only one duel; each
unit would select a combatant who would represent them, and after
that there would be a truce. The Carabiniers chose their twelve
best swordsmen, among whom was Augereau, and it was agreed that
the defender of the regimental honour should be chosen by lot.
On that day fate was more blind than usual, for it selected a
sergeant by the name of Donnadieu, who had five children.
Augereau observed that the name of a father of a family should
not have been included in the draw, and asked if he might replace
his comrade. Donnadieu declared that as his name had been chosen
he would go forward. Augereau insisted, and this battle of
generosity was ended only by the members of the meeting accepting
Augereau's proposal. The name of the combatant chosen by the
Gendarmes would soon be known and after that it was merely a
matter of arranging for the two adversaries to meet, when a
simulated quarrel would serve as a motive for the encounter.

Augereau had a fearsome opponent, an excellent swordsman, a
professional duelist, who as a warm-up, awaiting the contest, had
killed two sergeants of the Guards, on the days previously.
Augereau, without allowing himself to be intimidated by the
reputation of this bravo, went to the cafe where he knew he was
to appear, and while awaiting him sat down at a table. The
Gendarme arrived, and when his opponent had been pointed out to
him, he pulled aside his coat-tails, and sat down insolently on
the table, his backside not a foot from Augereau's face. Augereau
was drinking a cup of very hot coffee at the time and he gently
eased back the opening, called the ventouse, which existed then
at the back of a cavalryman's leather breeches, and poured the
steaming liquid onto the the buttocks of the impudent Gendarme,
who turned round in a fury! The quarrel having now been engaged
upon, they went outside, followed by a crowd of Gendarmes and
Carabiniers. As they went along, the ferocious Gendarme, to mock
the man whom, he felt confident, would be his victim, asked
Augereau, in a bantering tone, whether he would prefer to be
buried in the town or in the country. "The country" replied
Augereau, "I have always liked the open air." "Fine," said the
gendarme, and, turning to his second, he said, "Put him with the
other two I killed yesterday and the day before." This was not
very encouraging, and anyone but Augereau might have been put
out, but determined to sell his life dearly, he defended himself
with such skill that his adversary lost his temper and made a
false move, which allowed Augereau, who had remained calm, to run
him through, saying that it was he who would be buried in the

The camp being ended, the Carabiniers returned to Saumur, where
Augereau was peacefully continuing his military service when a
disastrous event precipitated him into a life of high adventure.

A young officer of exalted birth, but with a very nasty temper,
having found something to complain about concerning the grooming
of horses, rounded on Augereau, and in an access of rage offered
to strike him with his riding whip in front of the whole
squadron. Augereau indignantly seized the officer's whip and
threw it away, whereupon the latter, in a fury, drew his sword
and confronted Augereau, saying, "Defend yourself!" Augereau
restricted himself at first merely to parrying, but having been
slightly wounded, he made a riposte and the officer fell dead.

The general, Comte de Malseigne, who commanded the Carabiniers in
the name of Monsieur, was soon told of this affair, and although
eye-witnesses agreed in saying that Augereau, provoked by the
most unjustifiable attack, had legitimately defended himself, the
general, who favoured Augereau, thought it would be wiser to get
him out of the way. To do this he called on a Carabinier named
Papon, a native of Geneva whose term of service was due to expire
in a few days, and invited him to give his travel permit to
Augereau, promising to give him another one later. Papon agreed
to this, and Augereau was always most grateful to him, for when
he arrived in Geneva, he learned that the court-martial, in spite
of the evidence of the witnesses, had condemned him to death for
raising his sword against an officer.

The Papon family had a business which exported a large number of
watches to the east. Augereau decided to go with a representative
whom they were sending there, and travelled with him to Greece,
to the Ionian islands, to Constantinople and the shores of the
Black Sea.

He was in the Crimea when a Russian colonel, guessing from his
bearing that he had been a soldier, offered him the rank of

Augereau accepted, and served for several years in the Russian
army, which the famous Souwaroff commanded in a war against the
Turks, and was wounded in the assault on Ismailoff.

When peace was made between the Porte and Russia, the regiment in
which Augereau was serving was ordered to go to Poland; but he
did not wish to stay any longer with the semi-barbarous Russians,
so he deserted and went to Prussia, where he served at first in
the regiment of Prince Henry, and then, on account of his height
and good looks, he was posted to the famous guards of Frederick
the Great. He was there for two years, and his captain had led
him to hope for promotion, when one day the king, who was
reviewing his guards stopped in front of him and said, "There is
a fine looking Grenadier!....Where does he come from?" "He is
French sire," came the reply. "Too bad," said Frederick, who had
come to detest the French as much as he had once liked them. "Too
bad. If he had been Swiss or German we could have made something
of him".

Augereau, from then on, was convinced he would get nowhere in
Prussia, since he had heard it from the lips of the king himself,
and so he resolved to leave the country. This was a very
difficult matter, because as soon as the desertion of a soldier
was signalised by the firing of a cannon, the population set off
in pursuit of him, in the hope of obtaining the promised reward,
and the deserter when captured was invariably shot.

In order to avoid this fate and to regain his liberty, Augereau,
who knew that a good one third of the guards, foreigners like
himself, had only one wish, and that was to get out of Prussia,
spoke with some sixty of the most daring, to whom he pointed out
that a single deserter had no chance of escape, since it required
only two or three men to arrest him, so that it was essential to
leave in a body with arms and ammunition for defence. This is
what they did, under the leadership of Augereau.

This determined group of men, attacked on their way by peasants,
and even a detachment of soldiers, lost several of their company,
but killed many of their adversaries, and in one night they
reached a small area of the country of Saxony which is not more
than ten leagues from Potsdam. Augereau went to Dresden, where he
gave lessons in dancing and fencing, until the birth of the first
Dauphin, the son of Louis XVI, an event which the government
celebrated by granting an amnesty to all deserters, which allowed
Augereau not only to return to Paris, but to rejoin the
Carabiniers, his sentence having been quashed, and General de
Malseigne having insisted that he was one of the finest N.C.O.s
in the corps.

In 1788, the King of Naples, feeling the need to put his army on
a good footing, requested the King of France to send him a number
of officers and N.C.O.s to act as instructors, whom he undertook
to promote to a rank above their present one on their arrival.
Augereau was included in this party and was promoted to
sous-lieutenant. He served there for several years, and had just
been promoted to lieutenant, when he fell in love with the
daughter of a Greek merchant. When her father refused his consent
to the union, the two lovers were married in secret, and
embarking on the first vessel they found about to leave, they
went to Lisbon, where they lived peacefully for some time.

It was now the end of 1792; the French Revolution was spreading
rapidly, and all the sovereign heads of Europe feared the
introduction of these new principles into their states, and were
suspicious of everything French. Augereau has often assured me
that during his stay in Portugal he never said or did anything
which could alarm the government, nevertheless, he was arrested
and incarcerated in the prison of the Inquisition.

He had been languishing there for several months, when Madame
Augereau, his wife, a woman of courage, saw come into the harbour
a ship flying the tricolour. She went on board to give the
captain a letter, informing the French government of the
arbitrary arrest of her husband. The captain, although not a
naval officer, went boldly to the Portuguese ministry and
demanded the release of his compatriot; failing which, he said
that he would declare war in the name of France. Whether the
Portuguese believed this, or whether they realised that they had
acted unjustly, they set Augereau free, and he and his wife went
back to Havre in the ship of the gallant captain.

On his arrival in Paris, Augereau was designated captain, and was
sent to the Vendee, where by his advice and example he saved the
army of the incompetent General Ronsin, which gained him the rank
of battalion commander. Sick of fighting his fellow Frenchmen,
Augereau asked to be posted to the Pyrenees, and was sent to the
camp at Toulouse commanded by my father, who, recognising his
ability, made him adjutant-general, (That is colonel of the
general staff), and showed him many marks of affection, something
which Augereau never forgot. Having become general, he
distinguished himself in the wars in Spain and Italy, and in
particular, at Castiglione.

On the eve of this battle, the French army, beset on all sides,
found itself in a most critical position, and the
commander-in-chief, Bonaparte, called a council of war; the only
one he ever consulted. All the generals, even Massena, proposed
a retreat, but Augereau, having explained what, in his opinion,
could be done to get out of the situation, said, "Even if you all
go, I shall stay here and will attack the enemy, with my
division, at dawn." Bonaparte, impressed by the arguments which
Augereau had put forward, then said that he would stay with him.
After which there was no more talk of retreat, and the next day a
brilliant victory, due in large part to the courage and tactical
skill of Augereau, established, for a long time, the position of
the French army in Italy. Bonaparte was always mindful of this
day, and when, as Emperor, he created a new nobility, he named
Augereau Duc de Castiglione.

When General Hoche died, Augereau replaced him in the army of the
Rhine. After the establishment of the consulate, he was put in
charge of an army composed of French and Dutch troops which
fought the campaign of 1800 in Franconia, and won the battle of

When peace had been declared, he bought the estate and chateau of
La Houssaye. I may say, in regard to this purchase, that there
has been much exaggeration of the fortunes of some generals of
the army of Italy. Augereau, after having held for twenty years
the rank of commander-in-chief, or of marshal, and having enjoyed
for seven years a salary of two hundred thousand francs, and an
award of twenty-five thousand francs, due to his Legion of
Honour, left at his death an income of no more than forty-eight
thousand francs.

There was never a man more generous, unselfish and obliging. I
could give a number of examples, but will limit myself to two.
General Bonaparte, after his elevation to the consulate, created
a large unit of Guards, the infantry portion of which was placed
under the command of General Lannes. Lannes was a distinguished
soldier, but had no understanding of administration. Instead of
conforming to the tariff laid down for the purchase of clothing,
fabrics and other items, nothing was too good for him; so that
the suppliers of clothing and equipment to the guards, delighted
to be able to deal by mutual agreement with the manufacturers,
(in order to get back-handers,) and believing that their
malversations would be covered by the name of General Lannes, the
friend of the First Consul, made uniforms in such luxurious style
that when the accounts were drawn up, they exceeded by three
hundred thousand francs the sum allowed by the ministerial
regulations. The First Consul, who had resolved to restore order
to the finances, and to compel commanders not to go beyond the
permitted expenditure, decided to make an example. In spite of
his affection for Lannes, and his certainty that not a centime
had gone into his pocket, he held him responsible for the deficit
of three hundred thousand francs, and gave him no more than eight
days to pay this sum into the Guard's account, or face

This uncompromising ruling had an excellent effect in putting an
end to the extravagance which had got into unit accounting, but
General Lannes, although he had recently married the daughter of
a senator, had no hope of making this payment. When General
Augereau heard of the fix in which his friend found himself, he
went to his lawyer, drew out the sum required, and instructed his
secretary to pay it into the Guard's account, in the name of
General Lannes. When the First Consul heard of this, he warmly
approved of what Augereau had done, and to put Lannes in a
position to pay him back, he had him sent to Lisbon as
ambassador, a very lucrative post.

Here is another example of Augereau's generosity. He was not a
close friend of General Bernadotte, who had bought the estate of
Lagrange, for which he expected to pay with his wife's dowry; but
there was some delay in the transfer of this money, and his
creditors were pressing him, so he asked Augereau to lend him two
hundred thousand francs for five years. Augereau having agreed to
this, Madame Bernadotte took it on herself to ask what rate of
interest he would expect. He replied that although bankers and
businessmen required interest on money which they lent, when a
marshal was in the happy position of being able to help a
comrade, he should not expect any reward but the pleasure of
being of service. That is the man whom some have represented as
being hard and avaricious. At this moment, I shall say nothing
more about the life of Augereau, which will unroll itself in the
course of my story, which will show up his faults as well as his
fine qualities.

Chap. 21.

Let us now go back to Bayonne, where I had just joined Augereau's
staff. The winter, in this part of the country, is very mild;
which allowed us to train and exercise troops in preparation for
an attack on the Portuguese. However, the court of Lisbon having
conceded all that the French government required, we gave up the
idea of crossing the Pyrenees, and General Augereau was ordered
to go to Brest and take command of the 7th army corps, which was
earmarked for an invasion of Ireland.

General Augereau's first wife, the Greek, being in Pau, he wished
to visit her and take his leave of her, and he took with him
three aides-de-camp, of which I was one.

Normally, a commander-in-chief had a squadron of "Guides", a
detachment of which always escorted his carriage, as long as he
was in a part of the country occupied by troops under his
command. Bayonne did not yet have any "Guides," so they were
replaced by a platoon of cavalry at each of the post-houses
between Bayonne and Pau. These came from the regiment which I had
just left, the 25th Chasseurs; so that from the carriage in which
I was taking my ease, beside the Commander in Chief, I could see
my former companions trotting beside the door. I did not take any
pride in this, but I must admit that when we came to Puyoo, where
you saw me arrive two years previously on foot, bedraggled and
in the hands of the gendarmerie, I was weak enough to put on an
air, and to make myself known to the worthy mayor, Bordenave,
whom I presented to the commander-in-chief to whom I had told the
story of what had happened to me in this commune in 1801; and as
the brigade of gendarmes from Pyrehorade had joined the escort to
Pau, I was able to recognise the two who had arrested me. The
old mayor was sufficiently malicious to inform them that the
officer whom they saw in the commander-in-chief's fine carriage
was the same traveller whom they had taken for a deserter,
although his papers were in order, and the good fellow was, at
the same time, very proud of the judgement he had given on this

After a stay of twenty-four hours at Pau, we returned to Bayonne,
from where the general despatched me and Mainville to Brest, in
order to prepare his headquarters. We took seats in the
mail-coach as far as Bordeaux; but there, owing to the lack of
public transport, we were forced to take to the hacks of the
posting houses, which of all means of travelling, is surely the
most uncomfortable. It rained. The roads were appalling. The
nights pitch dark; but in spite of this, we had to press on at
the gallop, as our mission was urgent. Although I have never
been a very good horseman, the fact that I was accustomed to
riding, and a year spent in the riding school at Versailles, gave
me enough assurance and stamina to drive on the dreadful screws
which we were forced to mount. I got well enough through this
apprenticeship in the trade of courier, in which, you will see
later, I had to perfect myself; but it was not so with Mainville,
so we took two days and two nights to reach Nantes, where he
arrived bruised and worn out and incapable of continuing to ride
at speed. However we could not leave the commander-in-chief
without lodgings when he arrived at Brest, so it was agreed that
I would go on ahead, and that Mainville would follow later by

On my arrival, I rented the town house of M. Pasquier, the
banker, brother of the Pasquier who had been chancellor and
president of the house of peers. Mainville and several of my
comrades came to join me a few days later, and helped to make the
necessary arrangements for the commander-in-chief to maintain the
sort of state expected of him.

We began the year 1804 at Brest. The 7th Corps was made up of two
divisions of infantry and a brigade of cavalry; as these troops
were not encamped but were billeted in the neighbouring communes,
all the generals and their staffs stayed in Brest, where the
anchorages and the harbour were packed with vessels of all sorts.
The admirals and senior officers of the fleet were also in the
town, and other officers came there every day, so that Brest
afforded a most animated spectacle. Admiral Truguet and the
commander-in-chief held a number of brilliant receptions, scenes
that have often been the prelude to war.

In February General Augereau left for Paris, to where the First
Consul had summoned him to discuss with him the plan for the
invasion of Ireland. I went with him.

On our arrival in Paris, we found a very tense political
situation. The Bourbons, who had hoped that in taking the reins
of government, Bonaparte would support them, and would be
prepared to play the part that General Monk had once played in
England, when they discovered that he had no intention of
restoring them to the throne, resolved to overthrow him. To this
end they concocted a conspiracy which had as its leaders three
well known men, although of very different character. These were
General Pichegru, General Moreau and Georges Cadoudal.

Pichegru had taught Bonaparte mathematics at the college of
Brienne, but he had left there to join the army. The revolution
found him a sergeant in the artillery. His talent and courage
raised him rapidly to the rank of general. It was he who achieved
the conquest of Holland, in the middle of winter, but ambition
was his downfall. He allowed himself to be seduced by agents of
the Prince de Conde, and entered into correspondence with the
Prince, who promised him great rewards and the title of
"Constable" if he would use the influence which he had with the
troops to establish Louis XVIII on the throne of his forefathers.

Chance, that great arbiter of human destiny, decreed that
following a battle in which French troops, commanded by Moreau,
had defeated the division of the Austrian General Kinglin, the
latter's supply wagon was captured, which contained letters from
Pichegru to the Prince de Conde. It was taken to Moreau, who was
a friend of Pichegru, to whom he owed some of his promotion, and
who concealed his discovery as long as Pichegru retained his
influence; but Pichegru having become a representative of the
people in the house of elders, where he continued to favour the
Bourbons, was arrested with several of his colleagues. Whereupon
Moreau hurriedly sent to the directorate the documents which
incriminated Pichegru, and led to his deportation to the wilds of

Pichegru contrived to escape from Guyana to America, from whence
he went to England; where having no longer any need for secrecy,
he put himself openly in the pay of Louis XVIII and aimed at the
overthrow of the consular government. However, he could not
pretend that, deprived of his rank, banished and absent from
France for more than six years, he could any longer wield as much
influence over the army as General Moreau, the victor of
Hohenlinden, and on this account, very popular with the troops,
of whom he was the inspector-general. Pichegru, then, out of
devotion to the Bourbon cause, agreed to forget the reasons he
had for disliking Moreau, and to unite with him for the triumph
of the policy to which he was committed. Moreau, who was born in
Brittany, was studying law at Rennes when the revolution of 1789
broke out. The students, young and turbulent, elected him as
their leader, and when they formed a battalion of volunteers,
they named Moreau as their commander. Having made his debut in
the profession of arms as a senior officer, he proved himself
both courageous and competent, and was rapidly promoted to
general and army commander. He won several battles, and
conducted, in the face of Prince Charles of Austria, a justly
celebrated retreat. But though a good soldier, Moreau lacked
civic courage. We have seen him refuse to put himself at the head
of the government, while Bonaparte was absent in Egypt, however,
though he had helped the latter on the 18th Brumaire, he became
envious of his power when he saw him raised to the position of
First Consul, to the extent that he sought by all means to
supplant him; driven on, it is said, by the jealousy felt by his
wife and mother-in-law towards Josephine. Given this situation,
it would not be difficult to persuade Moreau to conspire with
Pichegru to overthrow the government.

A Breton, named Lajolais, an agent of Louis XVIII, and a friend
of Moreau, became the intermediary between him and Pichegru; he
travelled frequently between London and Paris, and it soon became
evident to him that Moreau, while agreeing to the overthrow of
Bonaparte, intended to keep power for himself, and not to hand it
to the Bourbons. It was then thought that a meeting between him
and Pichegru might lead him to change his mind, so Pichegru was
landed on the coast of France from an English vessel at a spot
near Trepot, and went to Paris, to where Georges Cadoudal had
preceded him, along with M. de Riviere, the two Polignacs, and
other royalists.

Georges Cadoudal was the youngest son of a miller from Morbihan;
but as there was a bizarre custom, in that part of lower
Brittany, whereby the last-born of a family inherited all the
estate, Georges, whose father was comfortably off, had been given
a certain amount of education. He was a short man, with wide
shoulders and the heart of a tiger, whose audacity and courage
had raised him to the high command of all the groups of "Chouans"
in Brittany.

Since the pacification of Brittany he had lived in London; but
his fanatical devotion to the house of Bourbon did not allow him
any repose as long as the First Consul was at the head of the
government. He formed a plan to kill him. Not by a clandestine
assassination, but in broad daylight, by attacking him on the
road to Saint-Cloud with a party of thirty or forty mounted
"Chouans" well armed and wearing the uniform of the consular
guard. This plan had the more chance of success, since, at this
time, Bonaparte's escort was usually no more than four

A meeting was arranged between Pichegru and Moreau; it took place
at night, near the Church of La Madeleine, which was then being
built. Moreau agreed to the deposition, and even the death of the
First Consul, but he refused to consider the restoration of the

Bonaparte's secret police having warned him that there was
underground plotting going on in Paris, he ordered the arrest of
a number of former "Chouans" who were in the city. One of these
gave some information which seriously compromised General Moreau,
whose arrest was then agreed upon by the council of ministers.

This arrest initially created a very bad impression amongst the
general public, because Cadoudal and Pichegru not having been
arrested, no one believed they were in France, and it was said
that Bonaparte had invented the conspiracy in order to get rid of
Moreau. The government then had the strongest reasons to prove
that Cadoudal and Pichegru were in Paris, and that they had met
Moreau. All the barriers were closed for several days, and the
most drastic punishment was decreed for anyone sheltering the
conspirators. From that moment it became very difficult for them
to find any place of safety, and soon Pichegru, M. de Riviere and
the Polignacs fell into the hands of the police. These arrests
began to convince the public of the reality of the conspiracy,
and the capture of Georges Cadoudal dispelled any remaining

Cadoudal having stated in his interrogation that he had come with
the intention of killing the First Consul, and that the
conspiracy was backed by a prince of the royal family, the police
started an investigation to discover the location of all the
princes of the house of Bourbon. They found that the Prince
D'Enghien, the grandson of the great Conde, had been living for
some time at Ettenheim, a little town situated some leagues from
the Rhine, in the country of Baden. It has never been proved that
the Duc D'Enghien was involved in the conspiracy, but he
certainly had, on several occasions, been imprudent enough to
enter French territory. However that may be, the First Consul
sent, secretly, and by night, a detachment of troops led by
General Ordener, to the town of Ettenhiem, where they seized the
Duc D'Enghien. He was taken immediately to Vincennes, where he
was tried, condemned, and shot before the public was aware of his

This execution was greeted with general disapproval. It was held
that had the prince been captured on French territory, he could
have been tried under a law which in this case carried the death
penalty, but that to go and seize him beyond the frontiers, in a
foreign land, was a gross infringement of human rights.

It appeared, however, that the First Consul had not intended the
execution of the prince, and had wished only to frighten the
royalists who were conspiring against him; but that General
Savary, the head of the gendarmerie, who had gone to Vincennes,
took custody of the prince after sentence had been pronounced and
in an excess of zeal, had him shot, in order, he said, to save
the First Consul the trouble of ordering his death, or of sparing
the life of so dangerous an enemy. Savary has since denied that
he expressed such sentiments, but I have been assured by people
who heard him that he did. Bonaparte is known to have blamed
Savary for his hastiness, but the deed having been done, he had
to accept the consequences.

General Pichegru, ashamed to be associated with assassins, and
that the conqueror of Holland should stand in the dock with
criminals, hanged himself in prison by his cravat. It has been
claimed that he was strangled by Mamelukes of the Guard, but this
is a fabrication. Bonaparte had no incentive to commit such a
crime. It was more in his interest to have Pichegru disgraced
before a public tribunal than to have him killed in secret.

Georges Cadoudal, condemned to death, along with several
accomplices, was executed. The brothers Polignac, and M. de
Riviere, who received the same sentence, had it commuted to life
imprisonment. They were locked up in Vincennes, but after several
years they obtained permission to live on parole in a nursing
home. However, in 1814, on the approach of the allies, they left
and went to join the Comte d'Artois in Franche-comte; then in
1815 they were most savage in their pursuit of the Bonapartists.

As for General Moreau, he was sentenced to two years detention.
The First Consul pardoned him on condition that he went to the
United States. He lived there in obscurity until 1813, when he
went to Europe to range himself among the enemies of his country,
and died fighting against the French; thus confirming all the
accusations which were made against him at the time of Pichegru's

The French nation, weary of revolutions, and recognising the
extent to which Bonaparte was needed for the maintenance of good
order, chose to forget what was odious in the affair of the Duc
d'Enghien, and raised Bonaparte to the throne, by declaring him
Emperor on May 25th, 1804.

Almost all nations recognised the new sovereign of France. To
mark the occasion, eighteen generals, selected from the most
notable, were elevated to the dignity of Marshals of the Empire.

Chap. 22.

After the trial of Moreau, we returned to Brest, from where we
shortly came back to Paris, as the marshal had to assist in the
distribution of the decoration of the Legion d'Honneur, an award
which the Emperor had recently instituted for the recognition of
all sorts of meritorious actions. In this connection I recall an
anecdote which was widely circulated at the time. In order to
bestow the award on all these soldiers who had distinguished
themselves in the Republican armies, the Emperor took into
consideration all those who had been given Armes d'Honneur, and
he selected a great number of these for the Legion d'Honneur,
although several of them had returned to civilian life. M. de
Narbonne, a returned emigre, was living quietly in Paris in the
Rue de Miromesnil, in the house next to my mother's, when, on the
day that the medals were distributed, he discovered that his
footman, a former soldier in Egypt, had just been decorated.
Being about to dine, he sent for the footman and said to him, "It
is not right that a recipient of the Legion d'Honneur should hand
round plates; and it would be even less right that you should put
aside your decoration to serve at table. Sit down with me and we
shall dine together, and tomorrow you shall go to my country
estate where you shall be a game-keeper. An occupation which is
not incompatible with wearing your decoration."

When the Emperor was told of this display of good taste, he sent
for M. de Narbonne, whom he had wanted to meet for a long time,
having heard so much about his wit and intelligence, and was so
pleased with him that he made him an aide-de-camp.

After distributing the crosses in Paris, the Emperor went, for
the same purpose, to the camp at Boulogne, where the troops were
drawn up in a semi-circle facing the sea. The ceremony was
imposing. The Emperor appeared for the first time on a throne,
surrounded by his marshals. The enthusiasm was indescribable! The
English fleet who could see what was going on, sent several light
vessels in an attempt to disrupt the event by a cannonade, but
our coastal batteries briskly returned their fire.

There was a story current at the time which related that, after
the ceremony was over, the Emperor was returning to Boulogne
followed by his marshals and an immense retinue, when he stopped
in the shelter of one of these batteries, and calling to Marmont,
who had served in the artillery, said "Let us see if we can
remember our old trade and land a bomb on that English brig." And
dismissing the corporal who was in charge of the weapon, the
Emperor aimed and fired at the vessel. The bomb brushed the
vessel's sails and fell into the sea. Marmont tried but with no
better fortune. The Emperor then recalled the corporal to his
post and the latter took aim and fired with such effect that he
landed a bomb on the brig, which promptly sank, to the great
delight of the onlookers, whereupon Napoleon pinned a medal to
the soldier's uniform. How much truth there is in this tale, I do
not know. I shared in the favours being distributed on that day.
I had been a sous-lieutenant for five and a half years, and had
been through several campaigns. The Emperor, at the request of
Augereau promoted me to lieutenant; but for a moment I thought he
was going to refuse me this rank, for remembering that a Marbot
had figured in the conspiracy of Rennes, he frowned when the
marshal spoke up for me and, looking closely at me he said "Is it
you who...?" "No sire, it is not me who!..." I replied. "Ah!" he
said, "you are the one who was at Genoa and Marengo. I appoint
you lieutenant."

The Emperor also granted me a place at the military school of
Fontainebleau for my younger brother, Felix, and from that day on
he no longer confused me with my elder brother for whom he always
had antipathy, though Adolphe had done nothing to deserve it.

As the troops of 7th Corps were not concentrated in an
encampment, Marshal Augereau's presence in Brest was of very
little use; so he was given permission to spend the rest of the
summer and the autumn at his fine estate of La Houssaye, near
Tournan, in Brie. I even suspect that the Emperor preferred to
have him there rather than in the depths of Brittany at the head
of a large army. However, any doubts which the Emperor may have
had about Augereau's loyalty were without foundation, and arose
from the underground plots of a General S....

S.... was a brigadier-general serving in 7th Corps. A capable
officer, but over-ambitious. He was regarded as untrustworthy by
his fellow generals, who did not associate with him. Angered by
this rejection, and bent on revenge, he sent to the Emperor a
letter in which he denounced all the generals, as well as the
marshal, as conspiring against the empire. Napoleon, to his
credit, did not employ any secret means to ascertain the truth:
he simply passed the general's letter on to Marshal Augereau. The
marshal felt sure that nothing serious was going on in his army;
however as he knew that several generals and colonels had engaged
in some thoughtless talk, he resolved to put an end to this sort
of thing. As he did not wish to jeopardize the career of those
officers to whom he intended to deliver a rebuke, he thought it
would be best if his words were carried by an aide-de-camp, and
he chose to take me into his confidence for this important

I left La Housaye in August, in very hot weather, and rode at
full speed the one hundred and sixty leagues between the chateau
and the town of Brest, and as many again on the way back. I
stayed no more than twenty-four hours in the town, so I arrived
back completely worn out, for I think that there is no more
exhausting job than riding rapidly on horseback from post-house
to post-house. I had found things a good deal more serious than
the marshal had thought; there was, in fact a considerable
ferment in the army, but the message I had brought calmed down
the generals, almost all of whom were devoted to the marshal.

I was beginning to recover from my exertions when the marshal
said to me one morning, that the generals wanted to denounce
S.... as a spy. He added that it was absolutely essential that
he sent one of his aides-de-camp, and he wanted to know if I felt
able to make the journey again. He said he would not order me to
go, but would leave it to me to decide whether I could do it or
not. If it had been merely a matter of reward or even promotion,
I think I would have refused the task, but it was a question of
obliging my father's friend, who had welcomed me with so much
kindness, so I said that I would be ready to go in an hour's
time. I was worried that I might not be able to complete the
journey, because of the extremely tiring nature of this form of
travel; I rested for no more than two hours out of the
twenty-four, when I flung myself down on a heap of straw in the
post-house stables. It was fearfully hot weather, but I managed
to reach Brest and return without accident, and had the
satisfaction of being able to tell the marshal that the generals
would limit themselves to expressing their mistrust of S....

General S... being now discredited, deserted and went to England,
and is said to have wandered over Europe for twenty years before
dying in poverty.

After my second return from Brest, the marshal rewarded me by
putting me in direct contact with the Emperor. He sent me to
Fontainebleau to meet Napoleon and conduct him to La Houssaye,
where he was to spend a day in the company of several of his
marshals. It was while walking with them and discussing his
plans, and the manner in which he intended to uphold his dignity
and theirs, that he presented each of them with a sum of money
sufficient for them to purchase a mansion in Paris. Marshal
Augereau bought that of Rochechouart, in the Rue
Grenelle-St-Germain, which is today occupied by the ministry of
information. The mansion was superb, but the marshal preferred to
stay at La Houssaye, where he kept up a great state; for over and
above his aides-de-camp, each of whom had his own apartments, the
number of invited guests was always considerable. One enjoyed
complete liberty; the marshal allowed his guests to do as they
pleased, provided that no noise reached the wing of the chateau
occupied by his wife.

This excellent woman, who had become a chronic invalid, lived
very quietly, and appeared only rarely at the table or in the
salon, but when she did, far from constraining our high spirits,
she took pleasure in encouraging them.

She had with her two extraordinary lady companions. The first of
these always wore men's clothing, and was known by the name of
Sans-gene. She was the daughter of one of the leaders who, in
1793, defended Lyon against the forces of the convention. She
escaped, with her father, both of them disguised as soldiers, and
took refuge in the ranks of the 9th Dragoon regiment; where they
assumed nommes de guerre and took part in campaigning.

Mlle. Sans-Gene, who combined with her masculine attire and
appearance, a most manly courage, received several wounds, one of
them at Castiglione, where her regiment was part of Augereau's
division. General Bonaparte, who had often witnessed the prowess
of this remarkable woman, when he became First Consul, gave her a
pension and a position beside his wife; but life at court did not
suit Mlle. San-Gene. She left Mme. Bonaparte, who by mutual
consent handed her over to Mme. Augereau to whom she became
secretary and reader. The second lady companion of Mme. Augereau
was the widow of the sculptor Adam, and in spite of her eighty
years was the life and soul of the chateau.

Noisy parties and practical jokes were the order of the day at
this period of time, particularly at La Houssaye, whose
proprietor was not happy unless he could see his guests and the
younger members of his staff gay and animated. The marshal came
back to Paris in November; the time for the coronation was
drawing near and already the Pope, who had come for the ceremony,
was at the Tuileries. A crowd of magistrates and deputations from
various departments had collected in the capital, where also were
all the colonels of the army, with detachments from their
regiments, to whom the Emperor distributed, on the Champ de Mars,
the eagles, which became so celebrated. Paris, resplendent,
displayed a luxury hitherto unknown. The court of the new
Emperor became the most brilliant in the world; everywhere were
ftes, balls, and joyous assemblies.

The coronation took place on the 2nd December. I accompanied the
marshal at this ceremony, which I shall not describe, since the
details are so well known. Some days later the marshals held a
ball in honour of the Emperor and Empress. There were eighteen
marshals, and Marshal Duroc, although he was only Prefect of the
Palace, joined with them, which made nineteen subscribers, each
one of whom paid up 25,000 francs for the expenses of the event,
which therefore cost 475000 francs. The ball took place in the
great ballroom of the Opera, where never before had something so
magnificent been seen. General Samson of the engineers was the
organiser; the aides-de-camp acted as stewards, to welcome the
guests and to distribute tickets. Everyone in Paris wanted one,
so the aides were overwhelmed by letters and requests. I never
had so many friends! Everything went off perfectly, and the
Emperor appeared very pleased. So we ended the year 1804 in the
midst of celebrations, and entered the year 1805, which was to be
a year of many important events.

In order that his army could participate in the general
jollifications, Marshal Augereau went to Brest, in spite of the
rigours of winter, and gave a number of magnificent balls, at
which he entertained a succession of officers, and even a good
number of soldiers. At the beginning of spring, he returned to La
Houssaye to await the moment for the invasion of England.

This expedition, which was regarded as chimerical, was, however,

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