Home Store Products Research Design Strategy Support News
 Research | Napoleonic Cugnac Campaign of the Army of the Reserve in 1800 English Part 1 Chapter 1

IN 1800


Forces of the Republic. – Plans of campaign of winter. – Defensive Provisions. – Destitution of the armies. – Improvements with the military organization. – First idea of an Army of the Reserve. – Pacification of the Vendée. – Negotiations for peace. – Military Situation at the beginning of March 1800.

The shortly after the coup d'etat of 18 and 19 brumaire year 8 (November 9, and 10 1799), the new Government had, in spite of the many ones and serious concerns of an interior nature, to pay all its attention on the fight engaged by France against the second coalition formed in 1798 between England, Austria, Russia, Sicily and Turkey.

The beginnings of the campaign of 1799 had been unhappy. While the English and the Russians unloaded in Holland, the defeats of Stockach, Magnano, Cassano, Trebbia and Novi had involved the abandonment of right bank of the Rhine and the major part of Italy.

The situation had improved in autumn. The resistance of Brune to Bergen, 19th September, then in the lines of Castricum, October 6, led Duke of York to treat with Helder of the evacuation of Holland, which finished 19th November. By the skilful operations carried out of the 24th September to the 17th October, between Lake Zurich and of the Four-Cantons, Masséna rejected out of Switzerland the Austrians and the Russians. In Piedmont, Championnet succeeded in, initially, making raise the siege of Coni, but, beaten by Melas with Génola, November 4, it was constrained to be folded up on the Alps and Apennin.

At the date of the 22nd November, the military forces of the Republic, apart from the Army of the Orient occupying Egypt, rise, according to the official situations, with 285,000 men, divided as it follows:

Army of Batavia, under Brune 23,589 men.
Army of the Rhine, under Lecourbe 62,299
Army of the Danube, under Masséna 83,590
Army of Italy, under Championnet 56,253
Army of England, under Hédouville 57,505

Moreover, 100,000 men approximately are dispersed in the interior of the territory (1).

A few days before the coup d'etat, the Minister for the war, Dubois-Crancé, had addressed to the Directory a report (2) on a campaign to be carried out before the winter, with an aim of taking cantonments in Swabia and Piedmont.

The Army of the Rhine would send “the major part of its forces available” to the army of the Danube, because “one does not need two armies to act as Germany”. Thus reinforced. this army of the Danube would use Switzerland as “a vast position of weapons”, from where it would emerge, in north, in the side of the enemy established in Swabia, while worrying, in the south, Piedmont, by Bellinzona (3). The Army of Italy would take again also the offensive to conquer right bank of the Po.

It is according to these ideas that the new Minister for the war Berthier (4), addresses, 18th November, of the instructions with Lecourbe, commanding the Army of the Rhine. This army has the role of attracting with it, by the valley of Necker, as much as possible of Austrian forces, in order to facilitate the march in front of the army of the Danube. It should not be compromised in front of superior forces; if need be, it will give up right bank of the Rhine and will pass by again this river in Mannheim.

By decree of the 24th November, the Armies of the Rhine and of the Danube are joined together under the name of Army of the Rhine which “will extend from Geneva to Oppenheim” and of which the command is given the same day to Moreau, while Masséna receives that of the Army of Italy (5).

December 4, the written First Consul with Berthier:

The Minister for the war will join together at his place General Moreau and Clarke to stop together a plan of operations for the new Army of the Rhine.

The consuls would wish that, towards the end of December, the Army of the Rhine went to Bavaria.

It will be reinforced: 1. of 4th, 15th, 54th, 42nd, 51st, 48th, of two Batavian demi-brigades and two French demi-brigades of the army which is in Batavia, of the 21st regiment of chasseurs which is in Paris and of three regiments of cavalry, which are in Batavia; 2. of all the batallions of conscripts who it will be possible to send to it…. (6).

On these entrefaites, General Lecourbe having, of its own initiative, taken the offensive 16th November with the Army of the Rhine alone, had pushed back the Austrians on Necker and given the siege in front of Philipsbourg; but, attacked November the 23 and 26 by superior forces, it was beaten in Sinzheim on December 2 by General Sztaray and gave up right bank of the Rhine.

It was quite difficult to take again the offensive immediately. The greatest latitude is thus left in Moreau, which must send by Bacler of Alba (7) a dispatch announcing with the Government “the plan that it will have stopped for the beginning of the military operations and the means which it proposes to employ to put it at execution (8)”.

The First Consul writes 21st December to him:

…. It appears that it will take one month for General Moreau to make its preparations…. If the court of Vienna hesitates, a bright victory and the invasion of Bavaria can rectify its ideas and carry our armies on the frontier of the hereditary States. The general-in-chief Moreau is authorized to conclude an armistice from three months, provided that the Army of Italy is included there…. (9).

The fatigues of the last campaign and the need for reinforcements impose a truce on the two enemy armies which take their winter quarters, separated by the Rhine, the line of the French Army occupying all Switzerland and having in the Valais Alps a demi-brigade which provides posts to the passes of the Simplon and Great Saint Bernard.

On the frontier of the Alps, Bonaparte would have wished to free Coni, the last position held by the French in Italy.

29th November, order is sent to General Grenier to join together in Tournoux all the troops of the left of the Army of Italy, to emerge of the pass of Largentière and to march on Coni, while two demi-brigades captures as Switzerland will cover the frontier in the department of Mont Blanc and that the center and the line of the Army of Italy will remain on the defensive of the pass of Tende in Genoa.

December 1, it is prescribed to join together, for January 1 “in Antibes and Nice, 200 pieces of artillery of 12, 8, of 4, howitzers of 6 inches, and 100 pieces of ordnance of 24, of 16, mortars of 8, 10 and 12 inches with a proportioned provisioning, and that at least 100 pieces of the crew of campaign of the Army of Italy are harnessed, and, as soon as possible, in a position to enter to campaign (10)”.

The capitulation of Coni, 14th December, decreases the offensive appropriateness of the Army of Italy; the diseases, the desertions (11), the shortage of the resources, the extreme demoralization of the corps of troop make it unable of any serious effort (12). Moreover the obstruction of the passes by snows traces for several months a neutral zone between the two adversaries. The Austrians are established in Piedmont, Lombardy and in the high valleys of the Alps, valley of Suze, valley of Aoste, etc (13), while the French confine themselves on the Western reverse of the mountains and in the cities of the littoral, between Nice and Genoa.

In spite of the winter, Masséna is invited to make carry out with its army, behind Apennin, “a prompt movement by its line” “to overthrow the enemy division which is in position in the river of the Levant and which covers Spezzia (14)”.

…. I would wish, writes the First Consul to him, which you benefitted from the moment when snows still encumber the outlets of Apennin, to concentrate forces in Genoa and to make a surprise attack on the enemy, that is to say that it presented in front of Genoa or in the river of Ponent (15).

But the Army of Italy was unable to make any movement. Masséna wrote:

…. The army absolutely naked and is exposed…. The pay is late six to seven months.

We do not have a bit of fodder nor provisioning of any species, not means of transport…. (16).

…. Liguria does not have any more provisioning of any species, all is exhausted…. I put all the troops at the half-ration, myself I gave the example of it; the inhabitant receives only three ounces of bread for twenty-four hours…. (17).

One also had thought of maritime expeditions and had ordered, 25th November, the formation in Brest of three squadrons, which were to leave the 5, December 10 and 20, under the orders of the admirals Bedout, Lacrosse and Bruix, and to receive the their departure day before “a direct instruction of the Consuls on the mission which they will have to fulfill”.

By another decree of the 25th November, important forces were allotted to the one of these squadrons:

Art 1st. – The Minister for the war will give orders so that 3,000 conscripts, 400 recruits of horsemen, 200 grenadiers, 100 workmen of any species, are returned 24th frimaire (18) in Brest, under the orders of and a two brigadier general major general, to be embarked there on board squadron which commanded by the Bruix vice-admiral.

Art 2. – It will take the measures necessary to join together in Brest, to be embarked on the same squadron, the objects hereafter: six pieces of 4, four pieces of 8, two howitzers and 1000 cartridges with ball and balls by piece, 6,000 balls of 24, 6,000 balls of 16, 4,000 balls of 12 and 12,000 balls of 8, 3,000 muskets, 500,000 cartridges of infantry, 1000 pairs of guns, 1000 sabers, 400 saddles with hussar and quantity of cloths necessary to the clothing of 15,000 men, 6,000 bombs of 12 inches and 12,000 of 8 inches.

Various considerations delayed the departure of these squadrons, but of the later letters of the First Consul show the role that it intended to them. Bedout would be charged to destroy the Portuguese and English establishments on the Western coast of Africa; Lacrosse would move by Madeira on the Antilles, to return by Newfoundland and to destroy the English vessels everywhere; finally Bruix would pass in the Mediterranean, in order to free Malta, would be supplied in Toulon and from there would make the expedition of Mahon, while a light squadron would supply the army of Egypt.

Thus, for various causes, any operation was temporarily differed, and the winter months were employed to send reinforcements to the armies, to reorganize them and prepare a new campaign for spring.


Above all, it was important to put the frontier safe from an offensive of the Austrians.

In early December, orders are given “for the provisioning of Briançon, Mount-Lyon (Mount Dauphin) and Antibes (19)”, and for the powder expedition to the positions of first line which miss some: Mainz, Landau, Strasbourg, Schlestadt, Besancon, Strength-Barraux, Briançon, Spray, Mount-Lyon, Antibes (20).

At the end of the month, Berthier addresses to the First Consul a “report on the frontier of Switzerland and the defensive of the departments close against the march to the enemy on Besancon”.

25th January a decree of the Consuls regulates the defensive organization of the frontier of the Jura:

Art 1st. – Positions of Geneva, Huningue, Belfort, Besancon, Auxonne, and the fortifications of Echelle, Montmélian, Joux, Blamont, Landskroon, Saline, will be put in the best state of defense. The Minister for the war will take measures such as at the beginning of floréal (21) these positions are likely greater possible defense.


Art 3. – The Minister for the war will send three commissions made up each one of an engineer and a draftsman-topographer, of an officer of the engineers, an artillery officer and a general or adjutant general officer….

Art 4. – The commissions will trace three lines: the first, that which it would have to be taken if the enemy were master of Switzerland;

The second, to ten or fifteen miles behind;

The third, with two marches behind of the second.

They (sic) will draw all the military positions which they will believe capacity being occupied.

They will indicate and visit the small cities, boroughs, firm, fortifications, likely to put the inhabitants at the shelter of the plundering of the hussars or to be used to support the outposts; they will hold note of the operations that there would be to make (22).



Lastly, 11th February, an inspector receives the order to go to check the condition of all the positions of the frontier of the Alps and the Jura.

General Lacombe-Saint-Michel, will be charged, as extraordinary inspector, citizen Minister, to visit all the positions or strong fortifications of the extreme frontier, from Barcelonnette to Besancon. It will have with him a captain of the engineers and a commisioner of war, and it will visit in the greatest detail the fortifications, artillery and the provisioning of the positions of food, etc .....

It will be authorized to call close to him the directors of artillery and the engineers and the commissaries directing to concert the means of doing the most urgent work at once and of supplementing promptly the provisioning (23).


It was also necessary to provide the armies with all that is essential to make the war.

11th October, Dubois-Crancé had written with the Directory:

…. The Army of Italy for 5 million postponed pay, its material is almost exhausted. It is necessary to give him a bridging train, a siege train, a park of campaign and 5,000 draft horses. Its cavalry is entirely weakened.

The armies of the Danube and the Rhine have about the same arrear of pay as that of Italy. The army which will act as Swabia needs a bridging train, of a park of campaign and 3,000 draft horses….

The situation was far from to have improved in the last weeks from the Directory (24), as shows it the following report:

General officers employed close the Minister for the war to the Minister for the war.

Paris, 21 brumaire year 8 (November 12, 1799).


It misses it:

Pieces of 4 27
Caissons of all gauges and transports of another kind 1,081
Cartridges with balls and balls 119,614
of infantry 25,586,223
Shells charged 35,866
Flints 160,000
Horses 6,000

The crew of the horses is provided by the Bodin Company; all the remainder is or in the foundries, or in Saint-Aignan, or in the arsenals of Paris, Grenoble, Montpellier, Toulon, Antibes, Auxonne, in which one made various orders.

The total expenditure to get these objects with the army is of…. 3 million approximately (25).


It misses it:

Pieces of 12 2
8 35
4 21
Howitzers of 6 inches 10
Mountings of replacement 58
Caissons of all gauges and aerofoils of another kind 570
Cartridges with balls 44,716
of infantry 23,001,934
Shell 26,436
Flints 2,152,220
Horses 5,410

It is the Julien Company which is in charge of the service of the horses to this army.

The forges of the Moselle, of the Saar, the arsenals of Metz, Fère, Neufbrisach and Paris offer resources for the remainder.

The total expenditure can be estimated at 2,000,000 of francs.


It is complete out of pieces of ordnance, mountings, caissons of artillery and infantry; she has her bridging train.

It misses it in the wagons with ammunition and of park, large caissons, caissons of tools and park, forges, carts, etc.300

She is not supplied out of cast irons and lead bullets. It is necessary its artillery crew a supply of 2,824 horses. It is still the Julien Company which is in charge of this service.

One considers the expenditure necessary to go up the park of this army to a million and half.

It can be supplied out of lead in Paris, where there is more than 800,000 heavy in balls, on account on a market of 6,000,000 that General Bernadotte passed during its ministry with the Boury company.

The forges of the Moselle, of the Saar, of the Ardennes and Strasbourg will provide in its other needs.


The requirements out of pieces of ordnance are of 19; out of caissons of artillery, infantry, artifices, tools, forges, wagons, etc.172

It misses 1312 horses.

It is the citizen Lanchère father who has this service with the French Army in Batavia; it passed a market to this end with the Dutch government.

Two hundred and thousand francs appear to have to be enough to supply the park of this army.

The arsenals of Brussels, Lille, Douai and Mézières, the forges of the Ardennes must offer to this army all that can be necessary for him.


It has all its material. This army not having a very great activity of campaign, it will be enough to increase by 300 horses the crew which already exists.

Foot-note. – One cannot give right intelligence on the number of muskets which would be necessary to each army. One sent all to them that existed in national manufactures; these last come, unfortunately, for lack of funds, to suspend their work; it is urgent to make them begin again them.

Where to find the funds to satisfy all these needs: manufacture of muskets, sending of ammunition, payment of the pay?

The financial distress of France was larger, its empty cases, its exhausted credit. One was tiny room to expédients to find some resources and this critical phase was to be prolonged during the first months of the Consulate.

13th January 1800, the First Consul charge the Minister of the foreign relations, Talleyrand, to take again the negotiations with Portugal:

…. If it were true that one could draw 8 to 9 million from them, that would be of major importance…. that is due to 8 or 10,000 plow horses to trail the artillery crews necessary to the siege of the positions, which represents only one capital from 5 to 6 million that, in the current situation, we cannot provide (26).

The same day, he writes: “Four million would be very essential for us in the current moment. It appears that Hamburg could give them to us (27). ”

Later, in March 1800, General Marmont is sent in Amsterdam, “to negotiate near the trade of this city a loan of 12 million francs mortgaged on the wood cuts of year 8”. This loan is proposed with an interest of a percent per month and General Marmont must “insist to have money cash or at least drafts in two months, which one can make money at once”.

The soldiers were less difficult to find than the money.

The recruitment of the army was ensured by the law of the 5th September 1798 (19 fructidor year 6) which had established the conscription in France (28).

Its essential provision was to compel with the service all the French from 20 to 25 years.

24th September 1798, the Directory had called with the activity 200,000 conscripts, but the first class (young people people 20 year old) produced indeed only 51,000 of them. The two following classes, called 17th April 1799, gave 82,000 men. It was necessary, 28th June, to put in activity what remained conscripts available in all the classes (29).

Joined together in each department in auxiliary batallions or batallions of conscripts, these young people were to be directed towards the armies. But clothing missed, enthusiasm had disappeared, the men deserted by bands, and the corps received only insufficient reinforcements.

It was important, however to increase the strength of the armies.

15th November, a council of general officers is joined together to this end, and, 27th, it is ordered that “the auxiliary batallions which will be necessary to carry the complete army will be built-in in the demi-brigades of of line infantry or of light infantry”.

A batallion is formed by department and the Minister returns account, 22nd January, of the departure for the armies of 82 batallions of conscripts. But the desertions continue to be very numerous during the road, especially among the conscripts of the departments of the South.

At the passage of the Var, in January 1800, eight batallions directed on the Army of Italy introduce together only 310 men instead of 10,250. The batallion of the Var has 49 of them, that of Puy-de-Dome 64, instead of 1100; those of the Tarn and Aveyron reach respectively only the figures of 32 and 50 instead of 1400 and the batallion of Lozere arrives " with 22 men instead of 1500 (30).

As the first Consul decides, 24th January, as it will not be sent any more conscripts directly to the armies, but which they all will be joined together “armed or not armed, equipped or not equipped” in Paris, Dijon and in the positions of depot indicated by the Minister; that “from the 1st ventôse (31), there will be no more batallions of conscripts” and that the individuals composing these batallions will be built-in in the demi-brigades which need some.

To the 28th December 1799, the army comprehend (32):

464,610 men with the strength and 381,034 present under arms, divided into:

140 demi-brigades (33) of infantry (110 of line, 30 light), with 3 batallions (34).

83 regiments of on horse troop:

2 carabiniers with 4 squadrons.
25 of cavalry with 3
20 dragoons with 4
23 chasseurs with 4
13 hussars with 4

16 artillery regiments: 8 on foot with 20 companies. 8 on horse with 6 companies.

12 companies of workmen.
2 bridging batallions.
8 artillery schools.
108 sedentary artillery companies.

4 batallions of sappers and 8 companies of miners.

This organization undergoes only light modifications.

After 18th Brumaire, the guard of the Directory took the service close to the Consuls.

28th November, it was reorganized by the following decree:

Art 1st. – The Consular Guard of the Republic will be made up of a general staff, of 2 batallions of on foot grenadiers and 2 squadrons of on horse grenadiers…….

Art 2. – The staff of the guard will be made up as it follows, it is:

1 General commander-in-chief, inspector of the corps;
2 aide-de-camps;
1 adjutant general.


Art 3. – The corps of on foot grenadiers will be composed of a trained staff as it follows:

1 colonel;
2 majors;
2 executive officers.


Each of the two batallions will be composed of 4 companies (strength of company 93, included officers).

Art 4. – The staff of on horse grenadiers will be made up as it follows, it is

1 colonel;
2 commanders of squadron;
1 executive officer.


Each of the two squadrons will be composed of 2 companies (strength of company 86, included officers).

Art 5. – A light artillery company will be especially assigned to the guard and the service of the pieces….


Two days after, the Minister for the war proposes for commander as a commander of the Consular Guard wounded General Murat the “and who needs a sedentary post”, and for commander of on horse grenadiers of the guard, the Bessières colonel.

These nominations are signed on December 2. The 3o of the same month, General Murat receives the following note (35):

One will make known tomorrow, with the order of the day of the Consular Guard, that their intention is that there are in their guard only men distinguished by their military services or brilliant deeds.

The commander of the guard will order, consequently, with the colonels and of batallion, to give the control of the individuals to him who make the corps which they command; they will have care to add to it, in note, the armies in which they were useful, principal actions where they were and particular features of bravery that they would have to put forward. It will have passed a review to this end.

Any individual who will not have made several campaigns will not be able, at a rate of that only, to belong to the Consular Guard (36).


The composition of the staff of the guard, his pay, its masses, its recruitment, are regulated by decrees of the 3rd January 1800.

By another decree of the same day, the artillery drivers (37) employed hitherto are replaced by the soldiers of the artillery train, who form integral part of the army.

One month later, it is decided that the horses of the artillery crews “will belong from now on to the Republic and will be maintained with its expenses”, but will be entrusted to farmers during peace (38).

The resumption of the horses to the contractors was to be done as from March 22. A decree of the 14th regulated the details of them. The Government took again the horses having more than 4 years and less 9, and the mules having more than 3 years and less 10; the maximum price was fixed at 300 francs for the horses (39) and 400 francs for the mules.

The increasing strength of the armies had brought the grouping of a certain number of divisions under the orders of one of the commanders of these divisions. The disadvantages of the command with equal rank had been felt since 1796, and more particularly during the campaign of 1799 (40). Without still pronouncing the word of corps of army, which appears only in March 1800, the First Consul of the 24th institutes the function of those which will have to command them by the following decree, November:

There will be in each corps of army three or four major generals which will be temporarily employed as lieutenants of the general-in-chief.

They will be indicated by the Minister for the war, on the presentation of the general-in-chief.

They will be taken among the major generals, whatever the date of their patent, and will have the command everywhere where they will be.

29th January 1800, the corps of the inspectors to the reviews, distinct from that of the Commisioners of war, is created and placed under the immediate orders of the Minister for the war, to be “in charge of the organization, enrollment, incorporation, levy, dismissal, pay and accountancy of the military corps, and the behavior of controls and the formation of the reviews (41)”.

All in alarming to improve the organization of the army, Bonaparte seeks to raise the military spirit.

24th November, it orders the formation of a military commission to examine the control of several commanders of position of Italy which had gone without waiting until it had practicable breach there.

25th December (42), it decides that the soldiers who will be characterized by brilliant deeds will receive muskets or rifles of honor, rods or trumpets of honor, furnished out of money, and will have a high pay of five centimes per day, and which the officers or soldiers will be able to obtain from the sabers of honor giving right a double pay.


It also thinks of using the many forces available inside France.

The First Consul with the Minister of the war.

Paris, 5 pluviôse year 8 (January 25, 1800).

My intention, citizen Minister, are to organize an Army of the Reserve, whose command will be reserved for the First Consul (43). It will be divided into right-hand side, center and left. Each one of these three large corps will be commanded by a lieutenant of the general-in-chief. There will be, moreover, a division of cavalry, also which commanded by a lieutenant of the general-in-chief.

Each one of these large corps will be divided in two divisions, which commanded each one by a major general and two brigadier generals, and each large corps will have, moreover, an artillery senior officer.

Each lieutenant will have a brigadier general for commander of his staff; each major general, an adjutant general.

Each one of these corps will consist of 18 to 20,000 men, including two regiments of hussars or chasseurs, and 16 artillery pieces, including 12 been useful by on foot companies and 4 by on horse companies.

The 14 batallions which form the depots of the Army of the Orient; 14th, 30th, 43rd, 96th demi-brigades, which are in the 17th division; 9th and the 24th light, which is with the Army of the West; the 22nd, 40th, 58th and 52nd, which are also with this army; the 11th light and the 66th, which are in the nine joined together departments, will belong to the Army of the Reserve.

15th, 19th, 21st, 24th of chasseurs; 5th, 8th, 9th and 19th, of dragoons; 11th, 12th and 2nd of hussars; 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 18th of cavalry; the 7 squadrons of depot of the on horse corps of the Army of the Orient, will be the core of 'the Army of the Reserve (44).

The line will be joined together in Lyon, the center in Dijon and the left in the Châlons-on-Marne (45).

The major general Saint-Remy will make the functions of commander of artillery of the army. Colonel Gassendi will be a general manager of the park. The first Marescot inspector of engineers will command this weapon. There will be a director and four commisioners of war attachés with each of the three large corps (46), and a director as a commander attaché with the army and residing near the Minister for the war, which will make the functions of chief of staff.

It is necessary to call in Paris a member of the board of directors of each corps which will compose the army, carrying the financial statement of the armament, equipment and clothing. They will be assembled in Paris 15th February.

You will give orders the most promptly to supplement possible each batallion with 1000 men.

You will propose the officers to me who will have to compose the staff of this army.

You will hold extremely secret the formation of the aforesaid the army, even in your offices, which you will ask only for the intelligence absolutely necessary (47).



The realization of this plan was subordinated to the pacification of the Vendée, which the concern of the interior peace of the country required besides. This goal was reached by employing at the same time softness and violence.

28th December 1799, the “Proclamation of the first Consul Bonaparte to the inhabitants of the West” announces that he wants “to deploy the force only after having exhausted the ways of persuasion and justice; …. that the freedom of the worships is guaranteed by the Constitution; that no magistrate can carry there reached (48)”.

At the same time several decrees appear, admitting with the political rights and the public office the parents of emigrants and the above noble ones, making it possible to use freely of the religious buildings for the exercise of the worship, ordering with risen to dissolve and give their muskets and their guns, and granting “amnesties whole and absolute with the inhabitants of the departments of the West, for all the events passed, without those which taking share with the disorders can, to in no case, to be sought or continued at a rate of it”.

While Generl Hédouvillel, commanding as a commander the Army of England, tries to arrive at pacification while treating with the royalists, it is ordered to him, January 5, to use of average violent ones.

…… the measure to have councils of war following the republican columns is useless. The Consuls think that the generals must make shoot the principal rebels taken at once the weapons with the hand.

The First Consul thinks that would be to give a salutary example, to burn two or three large communes…. (49).

The means of conciliation however took effect on the Vendean commanders, who undoubtedly nourished the secrecy hope to find in Bonaparte a restorer of monarchy. January the 17 and 18, the royalists of Anjou and Poitou accept peace. and their example is followed, February the 13 and 14, by those of Brittany.

It true that the negotiations had is supported by the sending of the major part of the troops of the army of Batavia, become useless. The commander of this army, Brune, replaces Hédouville 14th January, and the Army of England receives the name of Army of the West. Rubbed only remained out of weapons in Normandy; 15th February, having come in Alençon to treat conditions of disarmament with General Guidal, it treacherously is stopped and, three days, is condemned to died afterwards by a commission that Louis Bonaparte, colonel of 5th of dragoons, refused to chair (50).

Thus, before the end of the month, the West is pacified, and, 23rd February, the amnesty of the 28th December is extended to the departments of the Vendée, of Two-Sevres, of Loire-Lower and the Maine-and-Loire.

As of the first days of March, the First Consul can call upon the Army of the West to constitute the Army of the Reserve, the attempts at negotiations for peace having failed.


25th December, neglecting the diplomatic forms, it had written directly to the King of England and with the Emperor of Austria.

With S. Mr. the King of Great Britain and Ireland.

Paris, 4 nivôse year 8 (December 25, 1799).

Called by the wish, of the French nation to occupy the first magistrature of the Republic, I believe suitable, while entering in charge, to inform Your Majesty directly of it.

Does the war which, for eight years, has devastated the four parts of the world, have to be eternal? Isn't it thus any means of getting along?

How the two most enlightened of Europe, powerful and strong nations more than require it their safety and their independence, can sacrifice they to ideas of vain. size the good commercial, interior prosperity, the happiness of the families? How don't they feel not that peace is the first of the needs like the first for glories?

These feelings cannot be foreign in the middle of Your Majesty, which controls a free nation and with an only aim of making it fortunate.

Your Majesty will see in this opening only my sincere desire to contribute effectively for the second time to general pacification, by a step prompt, very of confidence, and which relieved of these forms which, necessary to perhaps disguise the dependence of the weak States, detect years the strong States only the mutual desire to be mistaken.

France, England, by the abuse their forces, can a long time still, for the misfortune of all the people, to delay exhaustion of it; but, I dare the statement, the fate of all the civilized nations is attaché at the end of a war which sets ablaze the whole world (51).


With S. Mr. Emperor, King de Hongrie and of Bohemia.

Paris, 4 nivôse year 8 (December 25, 1799).

Of return in Europe, after eighteen months of absence, I find the war lit between the French Republic and Your Majesty.

The French nation invites me to occupy the first magistrature.

Foreigner with any feeling of vainglory, the first of my wishes is to stop the overflowing of the blood which will run. Done everything to expect that, in the nearest campaign, of the many armies and skilfully directed will triple the number of the victims that the resumption of already made hostilities A.

The known character of Your Majesty does not leave me any

doubt on the wish of its heart. If it is only listened, I foresee the possibility of reconciling the interests of the two nations.

In the relations which I had previously with Your Majesty, it testified some regard personally to me. I request it to see, in the step which I make, the desire to answer, and to convince it it more and more of the very particular consideration that I have for it (52).


The King of England did not reply directly to the letter of the First Consul.

January 4 8oo, Lord Grenville, Foreign Minister of England, wrote in Talleyrand, Ministre relations foreign of France (53):

Dear Sir,

I received and given under the eyes of His Majesty the two letters that you addressed to me. Its Majesty not seeing reason to separate forms for a long time established in Europe about the businesses which are compromised between the States, ordered to me to answer you, on his behalf, the official answer which is included in this note.

I have the honor to be….


In the note which followed, Lord Grenville refused to negotiate “with those which a new revolution so recently invested of the capacity in France”; he complained about the spirit of conquest of the Republic, which had pushed it successively to invade the Netherlands, the United Provinces, the Swiss cantons, Germany and Italy; he stated not to be able to be satisfied with peaceful declarations so much of times renewed by the successive Governments of France, but to await a change of policy proven by facts. While wishing the re-establishment of the Bourbons, it did not make a condition necessary of peace and was said of it ready to treat with an offering government of the reasonable conditions of stability.

16th January, Talleyrand, in the name of the First Consul, counteracts Lord Grenville by a long note, which arrives to London 18th January.

The French Republic (54), said it, forever have the desire to make conquests; but, attacked by all Europe, which wanted to dismember it and involve itself in its interior businesses, it had to defend and push back the invader. In response to the insinuation concerning the Bourbons, it pointed out with mischievousness which the royal family of England held itself the capacity of a revolution, after having removed the crown with legitimate sovereigns. Lastly, it offered peace again and proposed a meeting of plenipotentiary at Dunkirk or another city.

20th January, Lord Grenville answers (55) while speaking again “of the not caused aggressions of France”; it states to stick to its first answer and to await the result of the experiment to judge reality of the peaceful provisions of the new French Government.

During this time, a booklet undoubtedly inspired by Bonaparte, appears in Paris, under the title: Impartial examination of the two letters of the First Consul of the French Republic and the King of England on peace (56). One summarized there the letter of the 26th December and the answer of the 4th January. The First Consul was cordially rented of its desire of peace; England was very criticized for its will to continue the war, for the importance attaché with the observation of the diplomatic forms in the indirect answer of the king, and especially for its insistence to advise in France the return of the Bourbons. One finished by a call to the union of all the French and by the apology for the new Government.

In England, the question of the negotiations to start with France is discussed with the House of Lords, in the meeting of the 28th January (57), and with that of the Communes, February the 3 and 7 (58).

The address with the king, proposed by Lord Grenville, is adopted by the Parliament, which vote also, 13th February, subsidies necessary to conclude an arrangement with the emperor from Germany, the voter of Bavaria and the other powers of the Empire.

The negotiations with Austria were inevitably slower, the diplomatic correspondence having to pass by the outposts of the two Armies of the Rhine. As is this 25th January only as the baron de Thugut, Foreign Minister of Austria, reply to the letter of the 25th December of the First Consul.

The court of Vienna, without declining positively the peace proposal which was made to him, was full with distrust for the peaceful intentions of France, basing itself on the experiment of the years spent, where the successive Governments had taken so many engagements without never respecting them (59).

27th February, Talleyrand answers:

…. Perhaps the best means of finishing any dispute between the two States would be to give purely and simply the treaty of Campo-Formio in force, while determining, by an additional treaty, the modifications which it should receive. In all the cases, Your Excellence will judge if it would not be initially necessary to be appropriate initially of a suspension of fighting between the respective armies…. (60).

24th March, Thugut, keeping silence on the request for an armistice, refuse to admit the treaty of Campo-Formio as base of a new agreement, propose, on the contrary, to take for starting point the respective situations of the belligerents, and admits the negotiations only for one general peace (61).

Thus, the talks still lasted, when, on both sides, one prepared actively with the war. The First Consul, while ordering in Brune to direct towards the East part of the troops of Brittany, writes on March to him 5:

…. Will we have peace? Will we have the war? that is still very problematic. At all events, the Emperor treats with us with the greatest kindness; the forms are in its favor as far as they were it against our friend George…. (62).

In an addressed letter, April 7, in Thugut, Talleyrand pushes back the claim of Austria, to take for base of the negotiations the respective situation of the belligerents, and requires that the court of Vienna fix itself the place and the mode of the negotiations (63).

9th April, it Moreau charge to propose to the General of Kray an armistice, provided that he extends to the Army of Italy (63).

The Austrian General did not believe himself not authorized to take this initiative, and, on these entrefaites, the hostilities started again in Italy, then soon in Germany.

By a last letter of the 2nd May, Mr. de Thugut refused any suspension of fighting before to have consulted the other powers (63). This letter came to the First Consul only in the plains of Italy, and it is the shortly after the battle of Marengo that he wrote again with the Emperor.

Prussia was in peace with France since the treaty of Basle; its neutrality seemed assured and the best reception waited in Berlin Duroc, aide-de-camp of the First Consul, extraordinary envoy after Brumaire 18th, then Beurnonville, appointed ambassador in January 1800 (64).

Without there being started negotiations, Sicily withdrew its army of the theater of the war.

Those of Russia had moved away from Switzerland after the campaign of autumn. The intentions of the tsar remained very a long time dubious; however, it was learned, in February, that the staff of Souvarow had reached Brünn and taken the road of Saint-Pétersbourg by Poland.

Thus, well before the resumption of the diplomatic talks between France and Russia, one could consider that this power had actually ceased belonging to the coalition.

The entered into negociations, any deads which they were, had as a result to show that the war was inevitable and that peace could be obtained only by the resumption of the hostilities.


At the beginning of March 1800, the interior situation of the country had improved by pacification of the Vendée, which returned, moreover, of the troops available for the military operations,

As for the external situation, it had been specified. Russia and Sicily did not have any more troops on line.

Turkey could act only as Egypt. Spain was allied in France; Portugal was pledged with the coalition; but the continental military action of the one and other of these countries was to be regarded as null.

The Swiss Republic and Batavia were occupied by the French troops. The other nations of Europe were neutral.

England and Austria, involving the small States of the Empire, thus remained indeed the two only adversaries of France (65).

England gave its gold to maintain the war and to pay the auxiliary quotas of the voter of Bavaria, the duke of Wurtemberg and the voter of Mainz; it brought, moreover, a material support by its fleet, mistress of the Mediterranean.

Austria had two armies: one in Swabia, under the General of Kray; the other in Italy, under the field-marshal of Melas (66). The first was main right bank of the Rhine; the second, of all Italy, except the river of Genoa.

Opposite the Austrian troops, against which the fight was going to begin, France had also two armies: the Army of Italy, strong of 31,000 men (67), under the command of Masséna, and the Army of the Rhine, which

was going to reach 120,000 men (68), under the orders of Moreau.

It was essential to create another mass, which would make it possible to produce a decisive effect on a point of the immense theater of operations, extending from the valley of Mein to the littoral of the Mediterranean.

Previous: FOREWORD
  1. Forces of the Republic preserved in activity at the time from the 7 ventôse year 8. Arch. of the engineers, vol. 227.
  2. This report, dated of the 28th October 1799, is entire hand of the General Dupont “employed close the Minister for the war”. It was published in the Memoires of Masséna, by KOCH, volume III, page 497.
  3. The principle of the strategic importance of Switzerland and the Tyrol had been put already in obviousness, autumn 1798, by the Minister for the Schérer war, which, proposing a plan of campaign to the Directory, wanted begin with an offensive from the army from Switzerland in the country from the Grisons. The French Army was then to go to the Tyrol and to be made main “from Innsbruck and Brixen because it is of this central point that the armies of Germany and Italy will be able to communicate together for all their operations, because still this position intercepts any communication of the enemy armies in Germany and Italy”.
  4. Berthier had become Ministre for the war, 11th November, the shortly after the coup d'etat.
  5. Moreau and Masséna were then the two generals more in sight.

    The personal situation of Moreau indicated it to command the most important army. The theater of operations of the Rhine and the high Danube, on which it had been already illustrated in the preceding campaigns, was familiar for him.

    Masséna knew Italy well and seemed indicated to replace Championnet. exhausted by the disease. Moreover, it is only with regret that it left Switzerland where it had just acquired so much glory; it remained long enough in Paris and joined only with back-plate its new army. It could not think whereas the bay-trees of the defender of Genoa would equalize in front of the history those of the victor of Zurich.

  6. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4413.
  7. Bacler, known as Bacler of Alba, born 21st October 1761, voluntary with the 2nd batallion of Ariège on May 1, 1793, became captain of gunners 20th October 1793, officer topographer draftsman with the general staff of the Army of Italy on September 3, 1796, and commander of the topographical engineers to the depot of the war, 22nd December 1799.

    He was a colonel 21st June 1807, brigadier general 24th October 1813 and directing of the depot of the war on March 2, 1814. Put in non-activity in 1815, he died 12th September 1824.

    He accompanied the Emperor in the majority by his campaigns and published various very appreciated maps of northern and central Italy.

  8. The First Consul with Berthier, December 21. – Corr. of Napoleon, no. 4433.
  9. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4432.
  10. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4409.
  11. Whole corps deserted:

    “The of line 24th and the 18th light one deserted from the Army of Italy where they were placed coast of Savona ..... 1200 men without officers, but in good order, arrived at Draguignan. They say aloud that they are ready to turn over if one wants to pay them, to equip them and nourish them. ” (Letter of the Police headquarters of the Var to the Minister for the war, January 16.)

  12. The gravity of the situation required exceptional measures. Extraordinary capacities were given to Masséna by a decree of the 22nd December:

    “..... Art 2. – It can suspend and return the generals which would not have its confidence.

    “Art 3. – It will be able to break the corps and to relieve the officers who would have principles of insubordination. ”

  13. The French held the peak of the Alps Pennines in the Simplon and the Great Saint Bernard. Coast of Suze, they occupied the plate of Mount Cenis and were masters of the Eastern slopes of the Mount-Genèvre and of the sources of Dora.
  14. The First consul with Berthier, January 21, 1800. – Corr. of Napoleon, no. 4543.
  15. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4565, February 5.
  16. Masséna with the First Consul, February 5.
  17. Masséna with the First Consul, February 23.
  18. December 15.
  19. Note dictated by the First Consul, – Corr. of Napoleon, no. 4409.
  20. The First Consul with Berthier, December 5. – Corr. of Napoleon, no. 4416.
  21. End of April.
  22. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4553.
  23. The First Consul with the Minister of the war.
  24. 28th November, the Minister for the war written to the generals which commands divisions:

    “Citizen, of innumerable complaints reach me of all shares. On all the points of the Republic, the military administration is in a state of total disorganization and the brave men who you command are with the day before to become everywhere the prey of the first needs for the life .....”

  25. The Minister sent, 29th November, of the officers to get information exactly about the needs for this army. Léopold Berthier went in Mont Blanc, César Berthier in the High ones and the Low-Alps, Lacroix to Liguria.
  26. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4521.
  27. Ibid, no. 4520.
  28. The young people, called under the terms of the old law of the requisition of the 23rd August 1793, bear the name of réquisitionnaires. Those which the new law reaches are the conscripts. , During this time, the trace of these two categories is often found.
  29. History of the Infantry in France, by the lieutenant-colonel BELHOMME, Review of the Infantry, 2nd half of 1896.
  30. Masséna with the First Consul, February 17, 1800.
  31. February 20.
  32. Forces of the Republic preserved in activity at the time from the 7 nivôse year 8. Archives of the engineers, vol. 227, p. 16.
  33. The name of demi-brigade had replaced in 1793 that of regiment, at the time of the 1st amalgam, which trained each demi-brigade with a batallion of an old regiment and two batallions of volunteer.

    24th September 1803 (1st vendémiaire year 12), a decree of the Consuls restores the name of regiment.

  34. The batallions had 9 companies, 1 of grenadiers, 8 fusiliers. In 1805, one of the companies of fusiliers became company of voltigeurs.
  35. 28th December 1799, the strength of the Consular Guard was of 2,830 men (Forces of the Republic preserved in activity at the time from the 7 nivôse year 8. Archives of the engineers, vol. 227).
  36. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4487.
  37. The strength of the artillery drivers was of 8,313 28th December 1799 (Forces of the Republic preserved known activity at the time from the 7 nivôse year 8. Archives of the engineers, vol. 227).
  38. See these two decrees with appendix no. 1.
  39. The horses received in Compiegne “coming from the Apple-brandy, beautiful turning, cuts cavalry, do not pass 300 francs; those of the chasseurs and hussars often do not go to 200 francs” (Report of Lefebvre, February 18, 1800. Arch. nat., AF IV, 1180).
  40. Memoires of Gouvion-Saint-cyr on the campaigns of the armies of the Rhine-and-Moselle, volume III, p. 9.
  41. Monitor of the 11th pluviôse year 8.
  42. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4451.
  43. See p. 47, the passage of the Memoires of Napoleon on this subject.
  44. The designation of the demi-brigades and regiments entering the composition of the army was several times modified.
  45. The zone of meeting of the army was tightened author of Dijon. The Châlons-on-Marne was completely given up and Lyon was only one center of provisioning. (See chap. 2.)
  46. Director and Commissioner of War belong to the same corps of the Commissaries. The highest commissioner in rank of each division is only directing.
  47. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4552.
  48. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4473.
  49. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4499.
  50. CHASSIN. – Pacifications of the West, volume III, p. 590.
  51. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4445.
  52. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4446.
  53. Monitor of the 26th nivôse (January 16), according to the English journal Morning chronicle.
  54. Correspondence of Napoleon. no. 4530.
  55. Monitor of the 12th pluviôse (February 1), according to the ministerial journal English The Sun.
  56. Monitor of the 4th pluviôse (January 24).
  57. Monitor of 17, 19, 20, 21, 22 pluviôse (6, 8, 9, February 10, 11).
  58. Monitor of the 24 and 25 pluviôse (February 13 and 14).
  59. Archives of the Foreign Affairs, vol. 371.
  60. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4623.
  61. Archives of the Foreign Affairs, vol. 371.
  62. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4639.
  63. Archives of the Foreign Affairs, vol. 371.
  64. Archives of the Foreign Affairs, vol. 226.
  65. Count BOULAY custom the MEURTHE. – Correspondence of Talleyrand with the First Consul during the campaign of 1800.
  66. Oestreichische militärische Zeitschrift, organ semi-official of the Austrian General Staff, volume 25 (1822), p. 21, carries to 97,063 men the army of Melas in autumn 1799, after the capture of Coni, while counting all the garrisons. According to this same publication (volume 26, p. 105), the strength of this army was, in the middle of May 1800, of 100,491 men including 13,741 horsemen.

    The official strength, of the army of Kray, was not found, and the figures given by the various authors are too different so that one can add faith to it. It is probable that it was at least as strong as the army of Melas.

  67. According to the situation of the 11th March, the Army of Italy comprehended 39,156 combatants, whose 7,885 Turreau pennies formed the left wing, i.e. troops keeping the French frontier in the high valleys of the Durance and Isere.

    There thus remained 31,271 men in the river of Genoa, under the direct orders of Masséna.

  68. It had 109,000 men 29th January, 118,000 21st March; its exact strength 25th April, day of the passage of the Rhine, was of 120,719 combatants, including 100,078 of infantry, 15,185 of cavalry, and 5,456 of artillery.