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 Research | Napoleonic Cugnac Campaign of the Army of the Reserve in 1800 English Part 1 Chapter 3

IN 1800


Double goal of the Army of the Reserve. – Reconnaissance of the passages of Splugen and Saint-Gothard. – Plan of operations of the First Consul for the Army of the Rhine. – Plan of General Moreau. – Reconnaissance of the Valais Alps. – Instructions of the 25th March and of the 9th April for the generals as a commander of the Armies of the Rhine, Italy and reserve. – Military Convention between Moreau and Berthier.

The Army of the Rhine, reinforced considerably and provided well, was in a position to cross the river and to emerge of Switzerland. The reduced Army of Italy, strength and lack of all, could only keep the alpine range and Apennin, from Mont Blanc in Genoa.

Placed at equal distance from the important points of the theater of the war (1). the army of Dijon east in situation to fill a double object, mentioned with precision in the Memoires of Napoleon.

…. It thus became urgent that the French Army of the Rhine took the offensive vigorously….

…. An Army of the Reserve of 35,000 men was joined together on the Saone, to go to the support of the army of Germany, if that were necessary, to emerge by Switzerland on the Po and to take the Austrian army with reverse….

…. The Army of the Reserve which it joins together on the Saone, with range to enter to Germany, if that were necessary….(2). “

The intention to support the Army of the Rhine is indicated in a letter addressed by the First Consul to Moreau, March 1:

…. It is not impossible, if the businesses continue with well marching here, that I would be yours for a few days….(3).

And in another letter with Brune, of the 5th March:

…. It would be possible that, towards 10th germinal, I went to the Rhine….(4).

As for the outlets of Switzerland in Italy. as of 31st January, the First Consul had sent its aide-de-camp Duroc to the Army of the Rhine, to traverse the outposts (5), so, said it, “that I always have near me somebody who knows the nature of this country (6). ”

18th February, it dictates in Bourienne the following note, relating to the passage of the Army of the Reserve by Splugen:

One supposes the reserve arrival in Zurich (7).

There is from there in Coire 30 miles, what makes 6 days of march.
De Coire with the Splugen mount. 10 Ci 2 days;
Of Splugen with Morbegno. 12 Ci 2 days;
De Morbegno in Bergamo. 12 Ci 2 days;
Totals. 64 miles, 12 days.

It would be necessary to acquire intelligence on this road; can transports pass they?

To have the detail, mile per mile, with the villages, their population, bad passages, bridges, etc

It is difficult to be ventured to place magazines at Coire or in Splugen, because, to the first marches retrogresses, they would be taken, and that besides an operation of this nature can succeed only with one extreme secrecy.

It would thus be necessary that the army left Zurich with food for fifteen days. It would be easy to have a warehouse of food which would be led of Zurich until the end of the lake, by water; what would decrease the three days transport. It would not thus be a question more but of transporting food for twelve days.

The soldier could take, on the basis of Zurich, for four days of food. One would not thus have any more but for eight days.

A mule carries 200, i.e. one needs five mules to nourish 1000 men during one day, and eight days, 40 mules. By supposing 50,000 men, that made 2,000 mules.

Thus, by supposing 75,000 mouths, including besides what it would be necessary for the transport of brandy, that would make 3,000 mules.

It is to be noticed that one supposes the things in the worst case, because it would be easy, when one in the case of becomes to make this movement, to be master of Coire and to have made make part of the voyage to a portion of these mules to carry food in Coire.

Perhaps it possible to have in Lucerne would be a depot of food, to transport them by the lake in Altdorf, and from there to make do one or two voyages in Splugen with a great number of mules.

If the circumstances made these two combinations possible, then half of the mules would be enough.

It would thus be necessary to have in Lucerne and Zurich of biscuit for the fifteen day old rations, less four days which could be given out of bread, which would make eleven days. It would take at least eleven days for the retirement, which one would make conduct from Zurich and Lucerne to the magazine of Splugen, in the case which the army would be in a hurry.

They would be thus 1,650,000 rations of biscuit which it would be necessary to have in reserve in Lucerne and Zurich.

March 1, Lemarrois receives the order to supplement the reconnaissance of Duroc while going to Saint-Gothard (8), although the idea to operate by the high valley of the Rhine, and even by the Tyrol, is still clearly expressed in a letter of the First Consul with Masséna, on March 5:

…. Whatever the events, put to a good garrison in Gavi, of the provisioning, a good man; recommend to him not to discourage himself, because, in all the cases, we will relieve it, was this even by Thirty….(9).


Such a bold operation would have obliged the enemy to evacuate all Italy immediately. It could not be undertaken that as much as the army of Moreau would have emerged in the valley of the Danube by binding its movements with those of the Army of the Reserve.

The First Consul with General Berthier, Minister for the war.

Paris, 10th ventôse year 8 (March 1, 1800).

I request from you, citizen Minister, to make known by a special courier, with General Moreau, that my intention is that its infantry is divided in ten divisions, each of 10,000 men.

First corps, composed of two divisions 20,000 men.
The second, of three divisions. 30,000
The third, of two divisions. 20,000
The fourth, of three divisions. 30,000
Total 100,000 men.

These fourth corps will bear the name of corps of reserve, and will be commanded by General Lecourbe. It is indeed intended to be used as corps of reserve for the three other corps, to keep Switzerland, and to combine its operations with those of the Army of Italy.

You will make share with the general-in-chief Moreau of my desire that it position for garrison, in Mainz, Strasbourg, and in all the positions of first line, the depots of all its demi-brigades and its regiments of cavalry;

That before breadth 1st germinal (10) all its army is the most concentrated that to make could be in the interval of Basle in Constance, and, for the facility of the subsistence, the left will be able to extend to Strasbourg;

That it makes, as soon as possible, throw a bridge on Aar, so that all the movements of Basle with Constance are extremely fast;

That it makes gather all that is necessary to be able to throw three bridges, all the extent will be calculated over the width of the Rhine, between Schaffouse and Constance;

That it distributes its cavalry as it will consider it suitable, by assigning to the 4th corps 3,000 men, the greatest part out of chasseurs or hussars;

That it makes build sledges to trail about thirty pieces of 8 and howitzers, which park of mountain will be attaché with the reserve.

You will give the orders to make join together, as soon as possible, in Geneva, 1,500,000 rations of biscuit and 100,000 pints of brandy, 100,000 bushels of oats.

A park of 1000 oxen will be joined together in Bourg (department of Ain) for the 1st germinal, and you will prevent General Moreau that this biscuit will be distributed only on one particular order of you, indicating a particular destination.

Finally you will take measures: 1. to make make, in the Dauphine one and the other countries of mountains of France, the purchase of 1000 pack mules, which will have to be returned to….(11) with the 1st germinal; 2. to make rent, by requisition, if that is necessary, 1000 mules of the departments of France where there is, and organize them in brigades (each mule will have its pack); 3. to make join together in Grenoble, as soon as possible, twenty sledges for pieces of 8, and ten for pieces of 4.

You will make known with the General Moreau which I wish that his commander of staff goes in all diligence to Paris, with the organization of the year in accordance with what is above.

This commander of staff will map to his return of the first operations of the campaign, combined with that of the other armies.

If General Moreau needed its commander of staff, it would at once send in Paris General Lecourbe, with one of the adjutant generals of the staff of General Moreau.

You will activate the organization of the Italian legions, in manner that they can enter to campaign in germinal. If there were detachments of these legions in above Provence, you will make them start at once, to join together them in the various small positions of the Saone and in above Burgundy.

You will give the order so that with the 1st germinal there are in Geneva 2 million cartridges, and 5,000 cartridges to balls and grapeshot of the gauges of 4, 8, and of howitzers, in the following proportion: half of 8, a quarter of 4, a quarter of howitzers.

You will send citizen Guériot to command artillery in Geneva, and to organize a room of artifices and magazines for depots (12).



Pursuant to this order, General Dessolle, commander of staff of Moreau, arrive to Paris 13th March. After a rather sharp discussion with him (13), the First Consul exposes its sights in the following note, where it takes account of the objections of Moreau.

This note is communicated, before its departure of Paris, with the General Dessolle, which registered strokes its observations (14) of them there.

The first batallion of the 9th of light infantry belongs to the Army of the Rhine; it will receive order to go to Lausanne.

1. 5th of line will go as soon as possible Army of the Rhine to Lille to Flanders;

The 12th of line, in Paris;

The batallion of the 11th light which is in Bitche, in Ghent;

The 27th light and 17th of line, in Batavia;

The orders are given to make leave Batavia for Mainz the 66th of line.

2. the Army of the Rhine (infantry) will be divided into four large corps of army (15):

The first, composed of three divisions:

1st division 5,000 men;
2nd 10,000
3rd 5,000

Second corps, of four divisions:

1st division (or advance guard) 5,000 men.
2nd 10,000
3rd 10,000
4th 5,000

The third like the first, the fourth like the second;

The first three large corps would bear the name of corps of Army of the Rhine; the fourth, of corps of reserve (16).

3. the cavalry would be divided in divisions (17) made up each of 2,000 to 3,000 horses;

The division of cavalry attaché to the corps of reserve would be of 3,000 men; two thirds made up of chasseurs or hussars, the third third of dragoons and cavalry.

4. Six artillery pieces for each small division;

Twelve pieces by each great division;

Three artillery pieces (18) for each division of cavalry;

The artillery of the reserve will have six pieces of 4 on mountings of sledges and the number of sledges necessary to cart the remainder of its crew.

5. the corps of Army of the Rhine will of the 20th pass this river to the 30th germinal, will go on Stockach and will push the enemy beyond Lech.

6. the 3rd division of the corps of reserve will pass the Rhine to be used as reserve with the corps of army (19) and will remain behind to maintain the communication with Schaffouse, when the army is in Swabia.

7. the 4th division of the corps of reserve will remain to cover the passage of Rheineck.

8. the 1st division' of the corps of reserve will give an opinion in Saint-Gothard and behind with the 6 pieces on mountings of sledges.

9. the 2nd division will remain in Zurich to follow the movement of 1st by Brunnen, or to march to the help of 4th, or to pass the Rhine to bend on 3rd, according to what that would be necessary.

10. As of the moment that the corps of the Army of the Rhine would have pushed the enemy beyond Ulm, that it would have gained advantages such as the enemy avoided coming to the hands, the 2nd division of the reserve would pass the Lucerne Lake to Brunnen, would follow the movement of 1st to pass Saint-Gothard and to enter to Italy;

4th would pass by the shortest way to follow 2nd;

3rd the Rhine would pass by again, which would supplement the detachment of the corps of reserve in Italy.

11. the day when the corps of Army of the Rhine would pass this river, the first three divisions of the Army of the Reserve of Dijon, which one can evaluate with 24,000 men of infantry and 2,000 horses, would go on Geneva (20), from where they would pass Saint-Gothard, that is to say while passing by Bern or Lucerne, or while following the valley of the Rhone; in this last case, the baggage and their artillery, except 8 pieces of 4 and 2 howitzers which they have on mounting-sledges, will pass by Lucerne.

If different events in Swabia changed the circumstances, this division of Geneva would be capable to go quickly on Schaffouse.

12. three last divisions of the Army of the Reserve will leave Dijon in the first days of floréal and will go to Zurich: one can evaluate their force equal to the first; they will represent, with the Army of the Rhine, about le' detachment which it will have been obliged to make in Italy.

13. the depot of Geneva will be under the immediate orders of the General of the Army of the Reserve. One will need that the army supplies Lucerne at least of 100,000 bushels of oats, 500,000 rations of biscuit, 2 million cartridges, 500,000 rations of brandy; that it gets 200 or 300 mules to make the service of Altdorf at the Hospital, in order to form in this last post a depot of brandy, biscuit and cartridges.

14. It would be necessary to make mend the ways of Lucerne with Altdorf to make them practicable, at least for the cavalry and the infantry (21).


The new conditions in which the army of Moreau was going to operate did not require any more the immediate contest of the Army of the Reserve and did not allow this one to engage of following the heart of Switzerland, which was ruined besides by the preceding campaign (22).

According to the intelligence brought by General Dessolle, of work were necessary to allow the passage of corps of troop Saint-Gothard (23).

From (24) Lucerne with Fluelen, it takes seven hours; the lake is dangerous, but less than that of Wallenstadt.

De Brunnen with Fluelen, one hour and half of time to go there.

De Fluelen with Altdorf….(25). Altdorf is burned; there remain scattered houses and approximately 5 houses remained.

D' Altdorf with Wasen, five hours; beautiful way; Wasen has 40 houses.

De Wasen with Urseren, five hours, without going up; the transports do not pass there; the guns and mountings must be dismounted. On a side of the way, dreadful escarpment; other, rocks. Reuss never freezes; it is of a terrible speed. Urseren has 400 hearts of population.

D' Urseren in Saint-Gothard, five or six hours to the hospice of the Capuchins; of Urseren at the Hospital, without going up, one hour; The Hospital is a borough like Urseren. One is useful oneself of sledges while going up and going down.

From Saint-Gothard with Airolo, one goes down in zigzag. Airolo is stronger than Urseren.

D' Airolo with Dazio, two hours; practicable in transport.

De Dazio with Pollegio, six hours; practicable way with difficulty for the transports.

De Pollegio with Bellinzona, six hours; the transports go well from Bellinzona to Mount-Cenere.

De Bellinzona in Lugano, good road for the transports.

One carried a piece of 4 and one piece of 3 on the Bernardin; but it takes three days for that.

To Saint-Gothard, the artillery of General Lecourbe passed there. When snow carries, that is feasible; with the thaw, or when the shone sun, that is not possible. Lecourbe's division was of 5,000 men (26); one made come the food by Splugen and the valley from Misox, and Lucerne by Altdorf with back of mules. The passage lasted approximately six days.

One needs five or six days of Altdorf for Bellinzona.

From Zurich with Brunnen, it is necessary….(27)

The road of Schweiz in Zurich by Etzen is good.

Lecourbe made build one rolls of Seedorf in Brunnen; it is practicable.

From Lucerne with Winkel; from Winkel, one will pass the lake to Stans and, from there, Bauen, and from Bauen until Seedorf.

In Lucerne, neither straw nor hay.

NOTE. – It is necessary to make arrange the way of Brunnen with Altdorf, so that the infantry and the cavalry pass there easily.

To make arrange the way of Altdorf with Bauen and Stans.

To have in Lucerne and Brunnen from the furnaces, 6 in Lucerne and as much in Brunnen.

To have in Fluelen of the buildings for magazines of biscuit, brandy and oats. To establish furnaces with Wasen; in having 6.

To arrange the roads of Wasen to Gothard, without giving too much awakening to the enemies.

To have with Lucerne 5 or 600,000 rations of biscuit and 100,000 bushels of oats.

The 1,500,000 rations of biscuit which one has in Geneva, and the brandy and oats, would be transported to Vevey and, from there, Stans and Lucerne.

It would be necessary that General Lecourbe had six pieces of 4 and two howitzers on mounting-sledges; the remainder of the park, composed of pieces of 8 and howitzers, would pass on simple sledges.

While thinking of crossing the passes of Splugen or Saint-Gothard, the First Consul sought other outlets to penetrate in Italy. Second Lieutenant Tourné, aide-de-camp of Clarke, had been sent in the Valais Alps, to already supplement the existing intelligence with the Depot of the war on the high valley of the Rhone (28).

Report with the First Consul on the Valais Alps and the passages of this country in Italy.

Charged by the First Consul of reconnoiter the Valais Alps and the passages of Italy, the instructions which to me were given indicated me three objects to be filled:

1. Of reconnoiter the nature of the way from Lausanne to Sion and Saint-Gothard; reconnoiter also passages of the Saint-Bernard and the Simplon; it is if the artillery and the transports passed or can pass by these positions.

2. Reconnoiter the situation of all the villages, places by places; to hold note of their population, their resources, especially in fodder.

3. To add to this intelligence all those which I will believe useful to collect. I contained the details relating to the first two objects in a descriptive table of the country and his resources, and his establishments.

I will present the third in the form of general observations and in various articles.


The Valais Alps extend from Saint-Maurice to Saint-Gothard. It is only one valley, a species of bowel from 40 to 50 miles length on one half-league or three quarters broad, bordered on each side by a long chain of mountains very high, which, the winter especially, leave between them only some narrow and almost impracticable passages.

The Rhone, running in the middle of this spit of land already if tightened, sometimes digs a very deep chasm between the very brought closer mountains, sometimes wanders on the plain which it makes mainly marshy or sterile. It remains with the inhabitant of these sad regions only some scraps of ground, on the right and on the left, that it disputes unceasingly against the crumbling of the mountains and the floods of the river. The cattle, in the parts which are likely to nourish a greater quantity of it, forms the principal richness, as it is, in general, the only resource of all the country.

By the effect of its situation, the Valais Alps are completely isolated from the various countries which border it, and, in consequence of this insulation, the troops which defend it find separate army of which they form part by a distance of 40 miles. They were delivered to themselves and a species of abandonment. The position of the Valais Alps, in the line which we occupy, is too important under the report of the attack or defense, so that one does not take all the means necessary to ensure the conservation of it.

The division of the Valais Alps, when the passage to Saint-Gothard by Furka is opened, binds by its left to the 2nd division of the army of Switzerland, who occupies this last position. It can, by this road, to receive reinforcements or to give some.

By the positions which it occupies on the peak of the mountains which border Italy, it is main passages of Italy, and it holds them open to the new forces that one would like to make there pass.

Lastly, it covers the passages of Grimsel and of Gemmi, by which the enemy, if he were master of the Valais Alps, could penetrate in the center of Switzerland, or to cause in this part a worrying diversion.


Here the general description of the roads, of the passages, the nature of the places, the ground and the resources of each place:

4 miles, 4 hours. – Of Lausanne with Vevey: magazines (10 horsemen).

On the basis of Lausanne to go in the Valais Alps, one marches along Lake Geneva until his end. The way, to Villeneuve, is broad and very plain. It reigns along the slopes; it, in general, is bordered of walls on each side. Those sometimes are brought closer enough, so as to allow only the passage of a transport. The country is beautiful and fertile. One crosses three or four small populated enough cities, inter alia Vevey, from 2 to 3,000 inhabitants and built well.

2 miles, 2 hours. – Villeneuve; not boarding: magazines, of Swiss detachment (5 horsemen).

Villeneuve, placed at the end is of Lake Geneva, has only 5 to 600 inhabitants, It A can there of buildings. It is the point of boarding and the warehouse of the food products intended for the Valais Alps.

From Villeneuve, one enters the valley of the Rhone to Saint-Maurice. The plain is perfectly plain, broad of approximately three quarters of mile, bordered by the mountains, very cultivated and fertile in fodder. The way is also broad and perfectly plain. One finds on the road:

2 miles, 2 hours. – Aigle: of Swiss detachment (5 horsemen).

7 to 800 inhabitants. Easy city.

2 miles, 2 hours. – Bex: artillery park (has riding).

5 to 600 inhabitants. Pleasant situation.

All this country is good, but it is the passage necessary of all that enters the Valais Alps, or which in fate; it is exhausted a little.

1 mile, 1 hour. – Saint-Maurice: hospital the scabious one, of Swiss detachment (5 horsemen).

Saint-Maurice is properly the entry and to some extent the door of the Valais Alps. The mountains, very brought closer in this place, leave between them only the passage of the Rhone. One passes it on a stone bridge. At the end is the fortification, old man and small building, surrounded by some crenelated walls. The city has some good houses and 5 to 600 inhabitants.

1 mile and half, 1 hour and half. – Évionnaz: of Swiss detachment.

While leaving Saint-Maurice, the plain opens and swells in half-circle; it is cultivated little and not very fertile. With half-league, on a ground more raised, one finds a wood, then Évionnaz, village of 150 inhabitants. The ground goes down on other side of the village. This rise in the ground dominates the plain which leads to Martigny. It would be a position which it would be necessary to occupy in the event of retirement of the Saint-Bernard; it offers a face of 100 toises, whose left rests on the Rhone and the line with steep mountains. The plain, until Martigny, is perfectly plain, narrower in some places, sometimes marshy. The way of Saint-Maurice with Martigny is broad and very plain.

1 mile, 1 hour. – Pissevache: two pieces of 4, of Swiss detachment.

One finds, after Évionnaz, Miévile, 150 inhabitants; the water fall called Pissevache. One passes Sort it, then Dranse; one arrives at Martigny.

1 mile, 1 hour. – Martigny: magazines for the Saint-Bernard; ambulance (two pieces of 4), of Swiss detachment (5 horsemen, 15 artillerists).

Martigny, called city, is only one borough of a few hundreds of inhabitants. The place is poor and few resources. There is however the convent of the monks of Saint-Bernard: It is the only a little considerable house. Around Martigny, the plain extends; it is rather fertile.


1/4 of mile, 1/4 of hour. – Bourg: some magazines, of Swiss detachment.

On the basis of Martigny, the first place on the road of the Saint-Bernard, it is the borough. It depends on the city; it is as considerable as it; it has as much population and also few resources. One passes Dranse; the plain finishes. One enters a narrow throat which turns to the east.

The way is on the edge of Dranse, which runs to 15 or 20 feet of depth. Until Saint-Branchier, it is broad and almost not amount.

1 mile, 1 hour. – Bovernier: of Swiss detachment.

One finds on the road, initially a forge with some huts, then Bovernier, village of a hundred inhabitants.

With one half-league, the throat opens. Other coast and on the edge of Dranse, is a rather large building raised by the Trappists, who wanted to be established in this place; it is abandoned.

1 mile, 1 hour. – Saint-Branchier (30): some magazines, of Swiss detachment.

Saint-Branchier is a good village of 200 inhabitants. Here, the valley is divided: that of left, called valley of Bagne, is 3 or 4 miles length; it is fertile, contains some villages and has only one very difficult outlet, which skirts the glacier of Tchemontana and descends the valley from Aoste. This passage is closed during the winter. One constantly left there a company dispersed in various cantonments; the advanced post is in Lourtier. The summer, one carries it at a point called Monvoisin.

De Saint-Branchier with Orsières, the way is a little rising and high on the side of the mountains, sometimes from 5 to 6 feet, with turnings and some ravines. The valley is opened, but dug in ditch. Dranse runs at the bottom, to 100 or 150 feet of depth; it rises as one approaches Orsières.

1 mile, 1 hour. – Orsières: of Swiss detachment.

Orsières, like Saint-Branchier, has some houses, 2 to 300 inhabitants, a little plain around.

Opposite Orsières is the pass Ferret. It is a small valley, whose outlet assembles and turns the Saint-Bernard, while leading to the throat of Saint-Remy. This passage is not easy, but it is attended in summer. A company is employed to keep the valley. One made there, last year, some cuts or entrenchments.

The road, with leaving Orsières, becomes much more rising and narrower in various places. With one half-league, it is on the side of the mountains, on the right constant by a scaffold of beams. With a quarter of mile further, there is an enough stiff zigzag to go up to a place called high Rive. A little further is Liddes, village of 150 inhabitants.

1 mile 1/2, 1 hour 1/4. – Liddes: 5 infantrymen.

In this part, the throat is open; mountains, on the left, more levelled and cultivated; those of right-hand side, uncultivated and bordered by Dranse.

De Liddes with Saint-Pierre, the road becomes increasingly rising and narrow; the throat narrows and becomes unfertile.

1 mile 1/2, 1 hour 1/2. – Saint-Pierre: 15 infantrymen.

Saint-Pierre is a small place, approximately 100 to 150 inhabitants without resources; they live only passengers. It is in Saint-Pierre that one takes mules to go up to the Saint-Bernard.

The exit of Saint-Pierre, on the side of the Saint-Bernard, 'is closed of a wall low, notched, and by a door. A brook, which goes down from the Velan mount, form a deep ravine, which borders the wall and holds place of ditch. On the left is small corps of guard, on a species of hillock.

Of Saint-Pierre to the plain of Proz, the throat is narrow. The way has only 2 to 3 feet broad; it is embarrassed stones and borders the ravine which form the torrent. This passage has one half-league.

3/4 of mile. – Flat of Proz.

The plain of Proz is a space between the mountains of oval, broad form in the middle of 30 to 40 toises, length of 200. The ground goes up inclined; the plain is plain; the brook curves in the medium. There is traced way; it is only one path. The rise in the ground makes that there is no more vegetation. The summer, there is little pasture. A hut is at the entry and another in the medium.

At the end of the plain, one sees, on the left, the top of the Velan mount. Some people, while coming from Saint-Remy, venture to go down by this coast; but one runs the greatest dangers in this passage.

On the right is the entry of the throat and the road of the Saint-Bernard.

One goes up initially by a zigzag from 5 to 6 turnings; the throat forever only 15 to 20 toises broad, but it is without ravine in the medium. The path there curves, turns around some monticules, rises and goes up unceasingly, without the slope being too strong. The road of the plain of Proz to the Saint-Bernard is one hour at one hour and half (sic, in contradiction with the indication below). One must observe, on the nature of this way, that it is only one path traced on snow, that it is erased at every moment; the inhabitants of the country can only the reconnoiter. The road hazard comes from what if one deviates on the right or on the left, one is likely to fall into snow and to remain buried there; it is entirely melted only for one or two months.

3 miles, 3 hours (sic) (31). – Convent of the Saint-Bernard: 3 companies, two pieces of 2.

The convent of the Saint-Bernard is a small building from 80 to 100 feet length, on 20 to 30 broad; the church takes half of it. At the ground floor, 2 companies are quartered; a third is in the building opposite. The monks are on the first floor. There are 5 or 6 rooms available. The convent is on the highest point of the passage; one goes down on other side until the most advanced post, which is with a half-quarter of mile. The winter, one arrives there while passing on the lake; when this last is not frozen, it is necessary to turn around the plan of Jupiter. With bottom and opposite the outpost, is the path which enters to the pass Ferret and which, turning the Saint-Bernard, leads to Orsières. On the left is the entry of the road of Saint-Remy, whose slope is rather fast. Of Saint-Remy with Aoste. the road has 3 or 4 feet of width; it is said that it is rather good.

One placed in front of the convent two pieces of 2, old and badly assembled. There are 12 men of guard to the outpost and 20 of reserve to the convent.

(De Martigny with Brieg (32). – Description of the valley and the crossed villages, Sion, Sierres, Leuk, Turtmann, Visp, Brieg.

Passage of the Simplon. – Gone up to Tavernette and â the Hospital; descent on the village of the Simplon and the advanced post.

High Valais Alps or Conche. – Villages of Naters and Morel. – Valley of Binna. – Lax, then Aernen, where the high Valais Alps start. – Difference of climate and manners between the top and the low Valais Alps. – Munster, Im-Log).



It results from the details that one has just read on the roads of the Valais Alps, that that of Lausanne with Brieg is very practicable for any species of transports or transport. The way, in all this extent, is broad, and the plain continues.

As for the passage of the Saint-Bernard, the road, until Saint-Branchier, is practicable for any species of transports; it is plain, broad from 8 to 10 feet.

From there, to Saint-Pierre, it is rising; in some places, narrower or embarrassed; in others, one could lead to it only vehicles of a light construction, like those of the country. It would be impossible to carry out them beyond Saint-Pierre.

If it acted, consequently, to make pass to the Saint-Bernard transport of a certain weight one of a certain dimension, an artillery piece, for example, it would be necessary to resort to extraordinary means. This 'company is not impossible to carry out.

It would be necessary to dismount the pieces and to place them on sledges strong, but narrow, in which they would be to some extent enchased and strongly subjugated. Is needed that the whole can undergo any species of jolts and resist it without testing neither, rupture nor displacement. These sledges must be related to a species of train with wheels to Saint-Pierre; from there to the convent of the Saint-Bernard.

The advantage which the road of the Saint-Bernard offers, for a company of this nature, it is that the space most difficult to cross has only 2 to 3 miles of extent; that it is not bordered of chasms and that one can there employ the number of forces necessary; the mountings and other accessories can be carried to back of mules.

An about similar operation was carried out last year on the Simplon. It offered the greatest difficulties. One wanted to lead an howitzer of 6 inches to it; one had only twenty-four hours to make the preparations; one succeeds in with much difficulty trailing it on the Simplon, from there with the Lake Maggiore, and then bringing it back at the time of the retirement. One employed there several days and one lost some horses there. By making in advance the preparations and the provisions necessary, it appears easy to transport beyond the Saint-Bernard a certain quantity of artillery, even large gauge.

As for the cavalry, it already passed from there by this road; it tested any accident forever. It is true that it can pass only by small detachments and that it is obliged to go, in the same day, of Saint-Pierre with Saint-Remy. It would be the same for the infantry. The hospital of the small Saint-Bernard to contain only 3 or 4 companies, and the wood defect and the rigor of the cold make that one cannot bivouac on the top of the mountain.

The Simplon offers more difficulties in the passing of transport than that of the Saint-Bernard. These difficulties are a narrow and more steep road, at the edge of a very deep chasm; stiff and not very practicable rises. These difficulties arise in a continuous way during a space from 4 to 5 miles. What one did however last year is the proof of what one could still do, especially when the measures would have been better captures and concerted in advance. It appears that one would succeed, by extraordinary means, to trail there artillery pieces, even large gauge. Thus one managed to build a bridge on the torrent of Gimma; it was necessary, for that, to lead in this narrow and fast passage, of the trees of 60 feet length.

Here the average employee by the artillery officer for the transport of the howitzer on the Simplon: Two simple sledges, being 18 inches height, and about as much basic; the higher width was proportioned with the base plates of the pieces of ordnance, and the length of approximately 4 feet 1/2. The amounts of the sledge were supported by two spacers, the pivots bored in the flasks; two hooks were placed vertically at the end to direct it.

De Brieg in Saint-Gothard, the road, especially in a space of 12 miles, is only one very narrow path, placed on the side of the mountains bordering the Rhone, which runs to 2 or 300 feet of depth. One meets, moreover, of the turnings and the very stiff zigzags. The rise of Furka offers the same difficulties and of larger still. There it is seen, consequently, that the passage by this road of a transport or an unspecified transport is impossible. It would be it also there to trail heavy burdens, because the road is long and that, in much of places, one can employ only the force of some men, or that of one horse.


The importance of the Valais Alps, under the military report, is shown enough. One can judge, according to the details which one has just read on the various passages by where one emerges in Italy, that defense requires provisions and a very particular knowledge of the ground.

The corps of army which is placed there find distributed on a line from 30 to 40 miles length. It is entirely isolated from the principal army and can only very tardily be helped. It is necessary thus that it can be sufficed for itself. It is a small army seconded to a not very accessible country; it must have all the force and means of existence.

There is now in the Valais Alps only one demi-brigade of 2,000 men (33). This force was hardly sufficient during the winter; it will be it less still when all the passages are open. Though the corps which are in the Valais Alps suffered much, it is advisable to leave it there. It has a very exact knowledge of the country and its exits. All is passage for the inhabitants exerted to cross the mountains. Each soldier of the demi-brigade acquired the same experiment and the same audacity. II would be very useful to send in this part one or two batallions, either to ensure the defense of the country, or so that they were exerted to traverse it and to know all the outlets of them.

In the case of an offensive to be operated by the Valais Alps, the position offers for that of great advantages.

The two great passages would be the Saint-Bernard and the Simplon. It is possible to make pass by these two roads of the infantry, the cavalry, and even of artillery, by however employing extraordinary means for the latter. The troops can arrive of the interior of France, is by Pontarlier and the roads which lead in the canton of Léman, either by Geneva, while following right bank of the lake, or by the road which, skirting left bank, passes by Thonon and comes to lead to the mouth of the Rhone. The latter is attended and more difficult. The forces of the interior can still emerge of Switzerland in the Valais Alps by the passage of Gemmi; the road is attended, but difficult and is closed during the winter. The infantry can only pass there.

The troops which would have carried out their passage by the Saint-Bernard and the Simplon go down, the first in the valley of Aoste, the seconds with the Lake Maggiore. They can then rest mutually and carry out their junction.

The troops which one would have carried in the high Valais Alps or Conche would emerge by the passage of Binna and that of Im-Log. They would still bind with those of Saint-Gothard by Furka; they would communicate with the interior of Switzerland by Grimsel and the valley of Urseren. Their descent would take place in Italy, by the valleys of Formazza and of Maggia. The first could follow the roads to the Lake Maggiore, meet in the seconds and go together on Bedretto and the descent of Saint-Gothard.

The success of an offensive operation by the Valais Alps is due primarily to the way in which the service of the food and that of transport will have been prepared, to provide to all the needs. The food can arrive by the road of Pontarlier; but the most considerable magazine of the ammunition of any kind must be in Geneva. The lake gives prompt and easy means of transport; the food products come to approach either in Vevey, or in Villeneuve. The difficulty is then to make them circulate or to make them lead until the end of the Valais Alps. The country has only little or not means of transport; hardly can one provide, in this moment, with that of the food necessary for the food of the 2,000 men who occupy the country.

If more considerable forces went down to Italy, until the moment when they would have penetrated enough front to even find their subsistence in the country, it would be necessary to make them arrive, like all the ammunition, by difficult passages. The means of accomplishing this transport must thus be organized in a sure way.

For that, it is necessary to have gathered a rather considerable quantity of mules. The Valais Alps admittedly offer few fodder resources; but the mule consumes less, nourishes itself of all indifferently and crosses all the passages easily.


The political situation of the Valais Alps can influence our military situation in this country; it is necessary to know it.

The Valais Alps were always a poor country, whose inhabitant ensured his existence only by one extreme frugality and of long economies. Thus one had found in each hut of the provisions piled up for several years. These resources having been destroyed, there remains none about it. Low Valais poor and is exhausted by the passages.

The country, between Sion and Brieg, entirely is plundered and set fire to.

The high Valais Alps, also called the valley of Conches, were rich in cattle. One has destroyed there, for one year, most of the animals with horns. One is forced to still take of them the every day for the subsistence of the troop, which will complete to afflict and upset the country.

The revolt of the high Valais Alps had due the absolute independence in which this country was previously, insinuations of the priests and operations of the enemy. The revolt was compressed; but of the horrors of any kind were made. They lit in the heart of the inhabitant a resentment quite difficult to extinguish. After having overcome the rebels, one did not disarm them; almost all preserved or hid their rifles. A Swiss commissioner, envoy in the country, made only appear to with it and did not take any measure. The enemy made there circulate proclamations, tries to make recruits there and to prepare a new insurrection there; it would take place, if we weak and were pushed back. It is the fear alone which contains the inhabitants.

The country, in general, offers few resources. One believes however that one would find there, while paying, a certain quantity of fodder, approximately 4,000 to 5,000 quintals.


The administrative service of the Valais Alps constantly was very neglected.

The bread often missed the last campaign and during the winter. The bread and a little bad meat were the only food of the soldier placed on the Saint-Bernard or the Simplon. He did not have a brandy; he was almost naked and without straw to lay down it. In spite of this state of destitution, the soldiers who occupy this position are full with goodwill. To my departure, the 1st germinal, convoys had arrived; the subsistence was ensured for one month; the troop received one month of pay; it was to also have effects.

The greatest difficulty in the service was for transport. That of fodder was not assured; it had arrived of the oats, but the hay missed. The company in charge of this part provides for it only imperfectly.

It would be essential to also organize the service of the hospitals. There is in all the Valais Alps one hospital, bench in Sion: it cannot contain, at most, that 300 patients. Those of the Valais Alps were evacuated on Lausanne and receipts at the civil hospice of this city. Orders were given by the Swiss minister to defend absolutely that they are received there.

It still results from the provision of the country which the patients can receive only from the very late helps and often after several days of march.


The forces of the Austrians, in the valley of Toca, that of Maggia and around the Lake Maggiore, are 3 to 4,000 men.

One counts some about as much with the foot of Saint-Gothard.

With the foot of the Saint-Bernard and in the valley of Aoste, there were a batallion of Kinsky and 500 Croatian.

General Landon is in Arona; prince de Rohan, in Omegna.

Of Saint-Remy in Turin, there are only 3,000 men disseminated on the road.

The army of the Austrians in Italy is evaluated by them to 100,000. It is believed however that they have only 60,000 quite effective men.

10th germinal year 8 of the Republic (March 31, 1800).

Aide-de-camp of General Clarke,

Pre TOURNÉ, second lieutenant.

Another report (34) of the same time supplements that of Second Lieutenant Tourné.

Position of the troops in Valais Alps to the 1st germinal year 8 (March 22, 1800).

Way in which the troops are distributed to keep the outlets of this country on Italy.

The Valais Alps comprehend from Saint-Maurice to Furka (communication with Saint-Gothard), which forms about the extent of 40 miles ground opened by several passages on Italy, defended and kept by the 28th demi-brigade of line, strong of 2,000 men, and 3 companies of the 1st Swiss batallion of light infantry, strong of 430 men.

These companies, stationed in second line, are intended to make the service of the escorts for the convoys, etc; they are stationed in Martigny, Saint-Maurice, Vevey, Villeneuve and Sion.

The valley of Dranse, which leads to Martigny and which communicates to the pass of Balme and in the valley of Chamonix, is kept by a company of the 28th. The passage extremely difficult and is attended very little.

The pass Ferret is kept by a company of the same demi-brigade.

The valley of Entremont, which communicates to the Saint-Bernard, is also kept by a company stationed with Saint-Pierre, village located at 3 miles of the hospice of the Saint-Bernard. The way is practicable only for the mules; one always follows right bank of Dranse up to one mile of Saint-Pierre, where the valley takes on the right to go up to the Great Saint Bernard. This rise has 3 miles, it is very fast and côtoie always Dranse, sometimes on the right, sometimes on the left, to the hospice, where 3 companies of the 3rd batallion of the 28th are posted.

Another company of the 28th occupies the villages of Orsières, Liddes, Branchier and makes the service of the correspondence of the Saint-Bernard. in Martigny.

The valley of Hérens, which leads on Sion, is not attended and impracticable even in summer, is kept by a detachment of 23 men of the 28th; in Sion, a Swiss company.

The valley of Anniviers, which comes to lead on Sierre, absolutely impracticable and is closed by glaciers which prevent any communication absolutely. There is troop in this moment; but, in Sierre, which is precisely with the outlet of this valley, a company of the 28th for the guard of the headquarters is stationed who is established there.

The valley of Vispach offers two passages, which have their outlet in Italy; they are kept by two companies, one stationed in Saas and the other in Stalden; Viége is occupied by a half-company.

The passage of the Simplon can be regarded as the principal market of the Valais Alps on Italy; it is already practicable in this moment for the infantry, but well little for the horses and mules. Notwithstanding, using some peasants of fatigue duty, one would succeed in making it very practicable. The rise, which is rather fast, is 6 miles starting from Brieg. At the top the village of the Simplon is, from which two roads leave who will meet in Ruden to go then to Italy. The first of these roads, on the right, known as Mine-in Or, is practicable only in summer; that of left, known as of the Simplon, côtoie edges of Guinna. The 3 grenadier companies and one of the fusiliers of the 28th demi-brigade stationed at the village of the Simplon and advanced posts, are in charge of the defense of these points; in Brieg, in reserve 4 companies of the same demi-brigade are.

The valley of Binna also offers a passage in Italy by that of Toca, which is practicable only in summer; she is kept by 2 companies of the 28th, one stationed in Binna and the other in Aernen.

The valley of Im-Log offers two passages in Italy, that of right-hand side which leads in that of Toca, and that of left, which leads to Bedretto. A company of the 28th is stationed in Obergestelen, in Geschenen and Ulrichen; another in Niederwald; they are in charge of the defense of these passages. Reckingen and Munster are also occupied by 2 companies.

Our posts hardly extend beyond Munster. One then meets the passage of Furka, which leads to the Saint-Gothard mount; he is divided into two branches, that of right-hand side leads in the Leventina valley and that of left, by Realp, at the hospice of Gothard; the passages are still impracticable. As soon as the season allows it, one will open derechef the communication with the troops of the 2nd division by Furka.


The observations of General Dessolle on the note of the middle of March show that there were still some difficulties of regulating, in particular the use of the Lecourbe corps and the first divisions of the army of Dijon.

The following order fixes the role of each one clearly;

The Minister for the war in General Moreau, commanding as a commander the Army of the Rhine.

Paris, 4 germinal year 8 (March 25, 1800) (35).

The Consuls of the Republic stopped, citizen General, after having considered the position of our troops in Switzerland, on the Rhine, in Italy, and the formation of the Army of the Reserve in Dijon, the plan of operations according to:

1. Which it is necessary to open the campaign, at the latest, of the 20th to the 30th germinal (36).

2. Which the current army of the Rhine will be divided in corps of army and corps of reserve. The corps of reserve, under command of General Lecourbe, will be composed of the quarter of the infantry and artillery of the army and the fifth of the cavalry.

3. Of the 20th to the 30th germinal, you will pass the Rhine with your corps of army, while benefitting from the advantages which the occupation of Switzerland offers to you to turn the Noire forest and to make null the preparations that the enemy could have made to dispute the throats of them.

4. the corps of reserve will be especially charged to keep Switzerland. Its advance guard, strong from 5 to 6,000 men, will occupy Saint-Gothard. It will have six pieces of artillery of 4 on mounting-sledges. You will make prepare simple sledges to be able to trail the remainder of artillery of your corps of reserve.

You will make join together in Lucerne 100,000 bushels of oats, 500,000 rations of biscuit, 1 million cartridges.

The first object of your corps of reserve will be, during your movements in Swabia, to protect Switzerland against the attacks which could have made the enemy to invade it by Feldkirch, Saint-Gothard and the Simplon. It is with the knowledge of the Government that the enemy made considerable provisioning on the Italy Lakes.

5. the goal of your movement in Germany, with your corps of army, must be to push the enemy in Bavaria, so as to intercept to him the direct communication with Milan by the Lake Constance and the Grisons.

6. As of the moment that this goal will be fulfilled and that one will be sure that with any event the large enemy army will not be able, even by supposing that it obliged you with you reployer, to reconquer the space which it would have lost that into ten or 'twelve days of time, the intention of the Consuls is to make keep Switzerland by last divisions of the Army of the Reserve, made up of troops less aguerries that the corps which will compose your reserve, and to detach your reserve with the elite of the Army of the Reserve of Dijon, to enter to Switzerland (37) by Saint-Gothard and the Simplon, and to operate the junction withArmy of Italy in the plains of Lombardy.

This last operation will be entrusted to the general-in-chief of the Army of the Reserve gathered in Dijon, which will act in concert with you, and whose Consuls will make choice (38).

Salute and fraternity.


Fifteen days after, are written the instructions relating to General Masséna and Berthier. This last goes to Basle and rule, with Moreau, the movements which must ensure the agreement of action of the two armies.

The Minister for the war to the general-in-chief Moreau.

Germinal Paris, 19th year 8 (April 9, 1800).

I address to you, citizen General, copy of the instructions that the Government charged me with giving to General Masséna. You will see there the plan of campaign which was adopted and the operations which are reserved for the army which you command and which my predecessor made known to you in substance.

I observe you that, if the Army of the Reserve would not be in a position to provide sufficient forces to replace General Lecourbe, after General Berthier will have taken 40,000 men to penetrate in Italy, the intention of the Consuls is that you add to the corps intended to keep Switzerland the reinforcements which you will consider it necessary to put it safe from any invasion. The care to preserve the intact line of Switzerland concerns you particularly, and as of the moment or General Berthier will have crossed the mountains, you will have to give to this object the most serious attention.

You know, citizen General, the confidence which your military talents for a long time inspired to me. The Consuls of the Republic test the same feelings for you and rest on successes that you to go to obtain.

Salute and fraternity.


The Minister for the war to the general-in-chief Masséna (39).

Germinal Paris, 19th year 8 (April 9, 1800).

The Consuls of the Republic charge me, citizen General, to announce plan to you which they formed for the nearest campaign.

The operations of the Army of the Rhine, which commanded by the general-in-chief Moreau, and Army of the Reserve, under command of the General Berthier, which gathers in Dijon, must correspond and be carried out with much concert and overall.

The Army of the Rhine will enter the first to campaign, which will take place of the 20th to the 30th this month. It will be divided in two corps: one, from approximately 100,000 men, under the immediate orders of General Moreau, will pass the Rhine, will enter in Swabia and will advance coast of Bavaria, until it can intercept, by its position, the communication of Germany with Milan by the road of Feldkirch, Coire and Italian bailliages of Switzerland.

The other corps of the Army of the Rhine, forming its right wing, will be approximately 25,000 men, under the immediate orders of General Lecourbe. Its destination is to initially occupy Switzerland to ensure the right side of the corps which must enter in Swabia, facilitate this invasion and contain the enemies out of Switzerland, by preventing them from penetrating by Rheineck, Feldkirch, Saint-Gothard and the Simplon. This first object filled and General Moreau having arrived to twelve or fifteen marches with these passages on the Rhine, General Lecourbe will pass with its corps under the orders of General Berthier, will cross Saint-Gothard and will enter to Italy. At the same time, part of the Army of the Reserve will go in the Valais Alps and will also penetrate in Italy, either by the Simplon, or by Saint-Gothard while the remainder of the same army takes in Switzerland the position of the corps led by General Lecourbe.

It is at that time precise, citizen General, where the troops directed by General Berthier will enter to Italy, which you must combine your movements with his, in order to draw to you the attention of the enemy, to oblige it to divide its forces and to operate your junction with the corps which will have penetrated in Italy. Hitherto, you will be held on the defensive. The mountains which cover you, making inevitably inactive the cavalry and artillery of the enemy, ensure you the superiority in this system of war, i.e. the certainty to maintain to you in your positions, which, hitherto, must be your true and only object.

The offensive, of your share, would be dangerous before this time, because, at the time of your entry in the plains, it would give in action of the enemy forces that the nature of the countries of mountains occupied by you holds paralyzed. It would be impossible to forward to you directly of the sufficient helps to give you a decided superiority. It is by Switzerland that these helps will arrive to you, by taking the rear of the enemy. Your made junction, this superiority will be decided; then the offensive will be recaptured, the positions of Piedmont and the Milanese will be removed or blockaded and the French Army will leave by its own courage the dreadful shortage of which we groan and which we cannot effectively cure.

The columns which will penetrate in Italy, either by Saint-Gothard and the Simplon (40), or by only one of these two points, if particular circumstances determine them to meet, will be probably approximately 65,000 men, resulting from the column of General Lecourbe, strong of 25,000 men, and that of General Berthier, strong of 40,000 men; on what it will be about 6,000 men of cavalry and 2,000 of artillery.

'To emerge in Italy, you will gather the forces which you have of available on the rear until the Var; you will draw from those which is widespread from the Var to Mount Cenis all that you will judge suitable and careful to reinforce you, and what will remain of Mount Cenis until the Valais Alps will be able to form particular corps, who will be placed at the disposal of General Berthier, to facilitate its movement.

If you judge capacity to nourish, during this short interval, the cavalry which is on the Rhone, you will make it come to emerge more forces some with what you have. In the contrary case, will give you to me opinion, so that I make it join together in Lyon and emerge by the frontier close to this river.

When your operations are advanced at this point, I will transmit the later instructions to you which will be given to me by the Consuls for the completion of the campaign.

You know too well, citizen General, the importance of the deepest secrecy in similar circumstances, so that it is necessary to recommend it to you. You will employ all the demonstrations and appearances of movement which you will judge suitable to mislead the enemy on the true goal of the plan of campaign and to persuade to him that it is by yourself that it must initially be attacked. Thus, you will exaggerate your forces, you will announce immense and nearest helps coming from the interior; you will move away finally the enemy, as much as it will be possible, of truths points of attack, which are Saint-Gothard and the Simplon.

It remains me to warn you that the intention of the Consuls is that while operating your junction with General Berthier, you go as much as possible on your left, and even in on this side Turin, if you consider it necessary, not to compromise the salute of the army (41).

Salute and fraternity.


The Minister for the war in General Berthier, commanding as a commander the Army of the Reserve.

Germinal Paris, 19th year 8 (April 9, 1800).

The instruction that you addressed, citizen General, by order of the Consuls, 4 this month, with General Moreau, on the opening of the campaign and of which I send copy to you, contains the bases of the general plan of the operations which must be carried out. The moment approaches where the columns of the Army of the Rhine will shake, and it is the Army of the Reserve with your orders which, placed between that of the Rhine and that of Italy, must establish between them the concert of operation which must take place and form the center of the broad outline whose right-hand side is in Genoa and the left in the Danube.

The intention of the Consuls is that before going to the Army of the Reserve, you go to the headquarters of the Army of the Rhine, to concert you with General Moreau on the series of the combined operations, the most perfect unit being essential.

You have three objects to fill: first is to support the movement which the Army of the Rhine must make in Swabia to open the campaign, and to give him help to the need; second is to penetrate in Italy with the major part of the Army of the Reserve and the column of the General Lecourbe, which will be joined together there under your command; third is to leave in Switzerland, at the time of your passage by the mount Saint-Gothard and the Simplon, sufficient corps of troop to guarantee Switzerland of any invasion on the side of Rheineck and Feldkirch. These corps will have to remain attaché with the Army of the Rhine, as of the moment of your entry in Italy.

It is on these various points that you have to concert you with General Moreau; and, as it is essential that the Government knows with precision that of which you will be agreed, the intention of the Consuls is that you address the drafting to me which you will have made signed, of the one and other.

When the first operations are made, I will transmit the new instructions to you which will be given to me by the Consuls (42).

Salute and fraternity.


Alexandre Berthier, general-in-chief of the Army of the Reserve, with the First Consul.

Germinal Basle, 26th year 8 (April 16, 1800).

I received this night, citizen Consul, the dispatch of the Minister for the war (43) which announces to me that your intention is that I direct the operations in the part of the Alps which is due to the department of Mont Blanc.

I go in all diligence to Dijon, where I will have news.

I dispatched a courier to make leave Dijon for Geneva General Duhesme with 2 demi-brigades, 1 regiment of horsemen and 8 artillery pieces; I hope to establish my headquarters there soon days.

The Army of the Rhine is superb; it is animated burning desire to fight.

General Dupont makes pass to the Minister the articles of which we are agreed with General Moreau.

General Moreau leaves only it batallions to keep Switzerland; it gives the command of it to General Moncey.

It wants absolutely to have with him the General Lecourbe, which commands its line and which passes the Rhine towards Schaffouse.

The attack of General Moreau appears to me combined well. I think that it will have great successes, but I see in a time distant the return from General Lecourbe with the forces necessary to carry out the passage in Italy.

General Lecourbe believes of great difficulties of passing through Saint-Gothard; it would wish to penetrate by the Tyrol.

I will have the honor to write to you more in detail with my arrival in Dijon.

Attachment and respect.


Headquarters of Basle, 26th germinal year 8 (April 16, 1800).

The generals as a commander Moreau and Berthier, after having acted in concert together, in accordance with the instructions of the Government on the execution of the plan of campaign which it adopted, adopted the following provisions:

1. General Moreau having formed corps of 40 batallions and 6 regiments of cavalry, under command of General Lecourbe, 11 batallions are intended to keep Switzerland while the Army of the Rhine acts on right bank; the 29 other batallions will form the line of General Moreau;

2. When General Moreau obtains on General Kray an enough considerable advantage to give him the superiority on the enemy, it will detach General Lecourbe with corps made up of the quarter of the infantry and fifth of the cavalry of the Army of the Rhine. These corps will meet in the troops of the Army of the Reserve, under command of General Berthier;

3. General Berthier will carry continuation part of its troops to Geneva and will make support the corps which will keep the Valais Alps, under the orders of the General Moncey, to which the general-in-chief Moreau proposes to entrust this defense;

4. General Moreau will act so as to draw aside the enemy army of the Tyrol, in order to facilitate the operations of General Berthier;

5. General Moreau will mean with the enemy General Kray that if he does not receive, in twenty-four hours, response to the proposal for an armistice that he made him according to the intention of the Consuls, he will look at this proposal like nonavenue. If General Kray does not accept the armistice, General Moreau will pass the Rhine at once.


The First Consul with General Berthier, commanding as a commander the Army of the Reserve, in Dijon.

Paris, 2 floréal year 8 (April 22, 1800).

I receive, citizen General, your letters of the 26th, of Basle, and of the 29th, of Dijon. I with pleasure read what you stopped with Moreau and which appeared reasonable to me.

If the circumstances of the war of the Rhine were not decisive enough so that General Moreau could make a detachment as strong as that which we wish, perhaps the operation in Italy would become still possible with a detachment of 5 demi-brigades and 2,000 men of cavalry. I imagine, according to all that one writes me of different departments, that, towards medium of floréal, your 14 demi-brigades will to be recruited and supplemented, which will make you forty thousand men, and, if it is true that you have 5,000 Italians, 8,000 men of the depots of the Army of the Orient, 5,000 of cavalry and 2,000 artillery men, that would make you 60,000 men. What would even prevent you, if General Moreau could not provide you great helps, from acting independently?

The General Turreau, which is in Briançon, could also emerge with 3 or 4,000 men.

In all the cases, hold your joined together army and do not lend the ear to the commanders of Lyon and other cities which will require troops of you.

I await a financial statement of your army, which puts to me with the fact its needs and for its position.

The 13 mounting-sledges left 29th.

The 2 batallions of the 30th, strength of 1800 men, and 150 men of 3rd of cavalry left yesterday; 150 men of the 29th of dragoons will leave only 10th.

A detachment of the guard, with an artillery train harnessed by 450 horses, left 26th.

Marmont must have arrived.

Make know to me where is the depot ordered in Geneva, the levy of the 2,000 mules and your park of 1,000 oxen.

Salute and friendship.


He leaves, 12th floréal, for Dijon:

3rd of cavalry. 100 1520 men (44).
15th of chasseurs. 400
19th of dragoons. 300
11th of hussars. 400
9th of dragoons. 320

The events impose soon notable modifications in the execution of these vast plans.

  1. Dijon is approximately with 200 kilometers of Basle and Geneva; with 280 kilometers of Strasbourg, Schaffouse, Zurich, of Saint-Gothard and Mount Cenis; with 440 kilometers of Frankfurt-on-the-Mein and of Genoa.
  2. Memoires of Napoleon, 2 edition, 1830, volume 6, p. 259 and 282.

    These memoires, whose complete title is Mémoires to be used for the French history under the reign of Napoleon written in Saint Helena under his dictation by the generals which shared its captivity, are often called also Mémoires of Saint Helena. They were published by Gourgaud and Montholon and are regarded as writings under the inspiration, if not even under the dictation of the Emperor. They must be consulted with some reserve, from the point of view of the exactitude of the facts.

    The chapter of Marengo did not appear in the 1st edition (1823-1825), but only in 2nd (1830), after being published in 1823 in the Works complete of Napoleon, by Lindner and Bret.

    The Memoires of Napoleon were still reproduced textually in the Correspondence of Napoleon, volume 30, Œuvres of Saint Helena (1869).

    The Memorial of Saint Helena, by Las Cases, appeared in 1822, is a work completely independent of the precedent. It is the account of the first left the stay of the Emperor with Saint Helena, intersected with many fragments of its conversations. One finds there many curious details, but not only one overall study on a campaign.

  3. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4627.
  4. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 1639.
  5. The First Consul with Duroc, January 31.
  6. The First Consul with Moreau, January 31. – Corr. of Napoleon, no. 4557.
  7. This note was published in the Correspondence of Napoleon, under the no. 4605, with the title: “Note for the provisioning of the reserve. ”

    The manuscript does not carry any signature; but the date “29 pluviôse” of the writing of Bourienne like the letter and the mention: “Note capture in Luxembourg”, leave little doubt about its origin, because the First Consul was still in Luxembourg 18th February and was transported to Tileries 19th February (30 pluviôse). (Monitor of the 1st ventôse.)

    It is interesting to bring closer this note that of the middle of March, to see p. 94, particularly §§ 9 and 12. One notes, during all this period, the constant desire of the First Consul to have a strong reserve at this meeting in Zurich, point central of Switzerland.

  8. The First Consul with Moreau. – Corr. of Napoleon, no. 4627.

    In the dictations of Saint Helena, Napoleon thus considered to be the value respective of Saint-Gothard and Splugen:

    “…. Pass of Saint-Gothard, which leads in the valley of Tessin, whose water moves perpendicularly on the Po, is the best emerged to enter to Italy; this crossed pass, one always goes down. The pass of Splugen does not have the same advantages: the valley of high Adda, in which it emerges, in parallel following the Alps to the Côme Lake, the army which would have passed this pass should surmount new obstacles, and would be still obliged to cross the mountains of Bergamesque and Brescian to go in the plain of Italy. ” (Corr. of Napoleon, volume 30, p. 296.)

  9. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4642,
  10. March 22.
  11. Gap in the original.
  12. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4626.
  13. Dessolle told itself the goal of its mission and the direction of its discussions with the First Consul.

    Moreau wanted to cross the Rhine to Strasbourg, Brisach and Basle and to join together its army in Swabia once the passage carried out; it asked to be raised of its functions if the First Consul maintained its plan of the passage by Schaffouse.

    The First Consul, known as Sorry, did not accept the resignation offered by Moreau, and ends up accepting its plan “with repugnance, but without the lightest modification”. See a letter addressed by Dessolle, 10th March 1825, with colonel de Carrion-Nisas and inserted into the justifying pieces of the Campaign of the French to Germany (1800). This work was published in the Memorial of the Depot of the war, volume 5 (1827).

  14. Written hand of Bourienne, this note exists in Military Archives, without title and date, corrected hand of the First Consul and annotated in margin by General Dessolle.

    It was published in the Correspondence of Napoleon with the date of the 22nd March 1800 and Plane title the “of campaign for the Army of the Rhine”.

    The date of the 22nd March does not seem exact, because the General Dessolle, which registered its observations in several pages of this note, remained in Paris only of the 13th to the 17th March. (See letters of the First Consul with Moreau of the 12, March 15 and 16. – Corr. of Napoleon.) the note is thus written towards 15th March.

    As for the title, it seems that that which would have been appropriate best would have been rather: “Plane of campaign for the Armies of the Rhine and reserve”.

    In any case, this piece, destiny only to record the result of the talks of the First Consul and General Dessolle, do not seem to be sent to General Moreau.

  15. Note of Dessolle in margin:

    General Moreau, not to shock the self-esteem of some old major generals, had reserved the direct command of 2 or 3 divisions; according to what the Consul said to me, it appears to approve this measure.

    Not only one does not see a disadvantage, but it is believed good that General Moreau makes such modification that it will judge suitable with the organization of the corps of the army.

  16. Organization similar to that of March 1 for the strength, but while differing by the number of divisions.
  17. Note of Dessolle in margin:

    These corps, except for the reserve, cannot be commanded that by generals of brigade by the lack of officers major generals of this weapon; one would need 2 more or 3 generals of cavalry to have replacements and to supervise the depots of cavalry of the army.

  18. Note of Dessolle in margin:

    I doubt that one can put in campaign a as great quantity of artillery as comprises it the prescribed organization. It was necessary, according to calculations' of the commander of artillery, 9,000 horses to trail 120 pieces of artillery with their ammunition; we had only 7,000 at the time of them when I left. The levy can have provided some horses moreover, but will not arrive complete of 9,000 horses for the current of the campaign.

  19. Note of Dessolle in margin:

    This distribution must be looked at as subjected to the circumstances, and it is necessary that a express article of the instruction authorizes General Moreau to make these movements and to reinforce the reserve, as it would by the way judge it, according to the forces that the enemy with his outlet would present to him. I believe that if the enemy receives the battle the line supported on the Lake Constance, there is no disadvantage to dismantle Switzerland (excluded Valais Alps and Gothard). The necessary number (sic) of the troops to be left as Switzerland, increases because direct of the distance of the enemy of the Lake Constance, when it stops to receive the battle.

  20. General Dessolle had written in margin the following observation, that the First Consul striked its hand:

    It seems to to me that, without a too large embarrassment for the subsistence, ones of the first three divisions of reserve could be directed by Pontarlier on Lucerne and that this direction would very put it at range of Schaffouse, if an event called there, without moving away it from its principal destination towards Saint-Gothard.

  21. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4694.
  22. One of the reasons determining Moreau not to enter to Switzerland was fear to push Switzerland with despair and to make raise the inhabitants. (Campaign of the French in Germany, 1800. – Memorial of the Depot of the war, volume 5, p. 45.)

    16th January, a decree of the Consuls had just authorized the monthly export of France in Switzerland of 180,000 myriagrammes of grains intended for the Army of the Rhine.

  23. The following note is one minute without date, nor signature, written in Paris, if not by General Dessolle, at least under its dictation, before 15th March, because the First Consul, in a letter of the 15th March with Moreau, prescribed all the provisions advised by this note: repair of the ways of Stans and Brunnen, meeting of provisioning in Lucerne, construction of furnaces with Wasen, “provisions resulting, says it, of the conferences that it has cues with General Dessolle”
  24. See map no. 1.
  25. Gap in the text.
  26. It is at the end of May 1799 that Lecourbe had passed returning Saint-Gothard of Italy to Switzerland.
  27. Gap in the text.
  28. One does not know the exact date to which Tourné was sent on mission; but by time necessary to his reconnaissance dated of the 31st March, one can estimate that it left Paris before March 1, at the moment when the First Consul posed the bases of its plan of operations.
  29. See map no. 2.
  30. Old the orthography of Sembrancher was Saint-Branchier, derivation, undoubtedly, of Saint-Pancrace who is the owner of the parish. In the pages which follow one will often see the name of this written village in the two ways.

    One also makes come this name from “Seven branches” because of the many valleys which confluent with the surroundings, from where by Sembrancher corruption. (Local Traditions.)

  31. It is this last indication which is exact. It takes approximately 3 hours to assemble canteen of Proz to 1 hospice.
  32. This reconnaissance of all the Valais Alps is useless for the study of the campaign of the Army of the Reserve, One will find the description of the Simplon to the second volume.
  33. It was the 25th demi-brigade of line. The General Mainoni, which commanded the troops stationed in the Valais Alps, also had under its orders the 6th batallion of Léman, two companies of foot artillery and a detachment of gunners of Vaud. The total of these troops was of 2,756 men at the date of the 29th December 1799.
  34. The author of this report is unknown.
  35. this letter, whose original misses, was published in the Correspondence of Napoleon at the date of the 22nd March. It seems certain of the 9th that it is of the 25th, according to the first words of the letter April of Carnot with Berthier (see p. 115).
  36. April 10 or 20.
  37. Read: in Italy.
  38. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4695.
  39. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4711.
  40. In spite of the report of the 31st March of Tourné, it is not question, 9th April, to pass by the Great Saint Bernard.
  41. This, letter explaining all the plan of campaign was entrusted to the Reille adjutant general who left Paris only 11th April. (Register of the departures of the couriers, national Archives, A.F., IV, 427.)

    It arrived 22nd April at the headquarters of Suchet which it found beating a retreat towards the Var and separated from Masséna, with which the communications were difficult.

    Five days later, Reille accounted for the average employees to ensure the execution of its mission:

    Albenga, 7 floréal year 8 (April 27, 1800).

    Citizen Consul,

    I arrived at Piétra 2 this month, Any communication with Genoa being stopped, I gave to Lieutenant General Suchet the plan of campaign; two aide-de-camps of the general-in-chief were dispatched and were carrying notes on its contents; only one could arrive and give news. I benefit from the first good weather and I leave this evening with a copy the plan of campaign; I will throw it to the sea if I am taken.

  42. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4710.
  43. See this letter in the following chapter, p. 138.
  44. Correspondence of Napoleon, no. 4724.