OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 5

Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5> 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

On the 7th of June he opened the Italian parliament in person, and assured the members and crowds of listeners that the troubles of Italy were at an end. As a first proof of the termination of all her sorrows and changes, he ordered a conscription, which raised the army of Italy to nearly fifty thousand men. He knew that the northern Italians would, under his management, become some of the finest soldiers in his service, and he soon had occasion to try them against the Austrians. He received the doge of Genoa with a deputation of senators and others, who implored him formally to unite that republic to France - a matter already agreed on; and, on the 9th of June, an imperial edict was issued, pronouncing that union made - for ever. Nor did Napoleon stop here. He wanted a little, snug principality for his sister Eliza and her husband, the Corsican Baciocchi, and he turned the republic of Lucca into such an one, and conferred it upon them.

But these assumptions of new territories and new honours had, as we have seen, alarmed the northern powers and Austria. They saw that they could have no peace with such a man, except it were a peace of continual encroachment, humiliation, and slavery. There was the utmost necessity for union, caution, and the exertion of every ability. England, who had really no occasion to do anything but to sit and see the continent work out its own rescue - for she was everywhere mistress of the seas - was again ready to assist with her money. But the folly and incapacity of those nations appeared to rise in intensity in proportion to the actual need of wisdom, and to the genius of their enemy. England could give them money, but she could not give them talent and sagacity. Before Russia could march down to unite with Austria, Austria, which had so long hung back, and thus delayed the operations of Alexander now showed as fatal a temerity, and commenced the campaign alone. She rushed into Bavaria, whose elector, Maximilian Joseph, had entered into league with Buonaparte, in common with Wurtemberg and other German states. The emperor Francis had dispatched Schwartzenberg to Munich, to endeavour to prevail on him to unite with Austria against the common enemy of Germany. Maximilian Joseph pleaded that he was quite resolved on doing that, but that his son was travelling in France, and he prayed time to recall him, or Buonaparte would wreak his vengeance upon him. This should have induced Francis of Austria to delay, at least a sufficient time for this purpose, especially as gave another chance for the decision of Prussia in their favour, when it saw the Russians already in march. Whether the elector of Bavaria would eventually have kept his promise is doubtful, for Napoleon was, on the other hand, pressing him close, through his ambassador, M. Otto, to proclaim openly the secret alliance concluded with France. On the very same day, the 8th of September, and not many hours after writing to the emperor Francis, as lie said, on his knees, imploring this delay on account of his son, he wrote to Napoleon's ambassador, Otto, saying that lie was distracted by his embarrassing situation. He had been compelled to plead the absence of his son in France for not joining Austria at once, and yet no French army was at hand to protect him. That very day the Austrians intended to march over his frontiere, and he had no troops collected to resist them. What was he to do? The French ambassador replied: - " Quit Munich; assemble your army at Würtzburg, and retire to the frontiere of Franconia, and await the certain approach of the army of Napoleon." Maximilian decided to do this; yet, even so late as the 21st of September, he replied to a reproachful letter of the emperor of Austria, condemning his un-German conduct, that lie was most anxious to join Austria for the defence of the common father-land, but that the circumstances before stated compelled him to maintain a strict neutrality, to prevent the bloodshed of his subjects. The French had never done him any injury, but he would never join them, and lie had withdrawn his army only to prevent a collision with the Austrian troops. He did not plead the case of his son any longer, for the emperor of Austria had told him plainly, that he could have had his son out of France long ago, if he so minded, by sending a special Courier.

The troops of Austria were already in Bavaria on the 21st. They amounted to eighty thousand men, under the nominal command of the archduke Ferdinand - a prince of high courage and great hopes - but under the real one of general Mack, whose utter incapacity had not been sufficiently manifested to Austria by his miserable failures in the Neapolitan campaign, and who was still regarded as a great military genius in Germany. His army had been posted behind the Inn, in the country betwixt the Tyrol and the Danube, into which the Inn falls at Passan. This was a strong frontier, and, had the Austrians waited there till the arrival of the Russians, they might have made a powerful stand. But Mack had already advanced them to the Lech, where again he had a strong position covering Munich. Meantime, the archduke Charles, Austria's best general, was posted in the north of Italy, with another eighty thousand men, and the archduke Charles in the Tyrol with an inferior force. Such were the positions of the Austrian armies when Mack was invading Bavaria, and Buonaparte was preparing to crush him.

Buonaparte had watched ail the motions of the northern powers and of Austria from the first, and was fully prepared to encounter and overthrow them. Even before his return from Italy his plans were laid. No sooner, indeed, was he in France again than lie proceeded to his great camp at Boulogne, and dated several decrees thence, thus drawing attention to the fact. Ail France was once more persuaded that he was now going to lead his invincible army of England across the straits, and add perfidious Albion to his conquests. He had increased that army greatly; it had been diligently disciplined, and contained soldiez who had carried him to victory in Italy and in Egypt. Such an army of a hundred and fifty thousand picked men was deemed capable of achieving anything with the emperor at their head. But never had Napoleon less intention of making the desperate attempt to cross the channel. There rode the British fleet, which was about to annihilate his navy at Trafalgar. There watched that Nelson, who was as omnipotent at sea as he himself was on land; he knelt that transit to Britain was impossible. In fact, ail the time that people thought him bound for England he was preparing for a march in an opposite direction. The maps of England had ail been thrown aside, and those of Germany substituted. He was busy collecting material for artillery; he was sending everywhere to buy up draught-horses to drag his baggage, and ammunition, and guns; and, suddenly, when people were looking for the ordering out of his flotilla, they were surprised by hearing that he was in füll march for the Rhine. On the 23rd of September he sent a report to the Senate in these words: - " The wishes of the eternal enemies of the continent are accomplished; hostilities have commenced in the midst of Germany; Austria and Russia have united with England; and our generation is again involved in all the calamities of war. But a very few days ago I cherished a hope that peace would not be disturbed. Threats and outrage only showed that they could make no impression upon me; but the Austrians have passed the Inn; Munich is invaded; the elector of Bavaria is driven from his capital; ail my hopes have therefore vanished. I tremble at the idea of the blood that must be spilled in Europe; but the French name will emerge with renovated and increased lustre."

This was accompanied by two decrees: one for ordering eighty thousand conscripts, and the other for the organisation of a national guard. The next day he was on the way to Strasburg. He said to Savary, " If the enemy comes to meet me" - for Mack, like a madman, was rushing towards the Rhine, far away from his allies - " I will destroy him before he has re-passed the Danube; if he waits for me, I will take him betwixt Augsburg and Ulm." The result showed how exactly he had calculated.

Besides the order of the conscription, Buonaparte raised money by seizing fifty millions of francs, the deposits of the national bank - a deed of direct violation of his own decrees, which had declared such deposits sacred. It was an act which excited deep murmurs, and which could have been perpetrated by no man who was not confident of brilliant military successes, which he knew would heal all sores in France. If he had failed in his campaign, this outrage on public credit would have been a millstone about his neck, sinking him deep into destruction. Fouché saw this, and said to him, before he set off - " We must have splendid victories and glory to dazzle the Parisians, or all will be lost, and everything is done that we have been doing." "You will be responsible," replied Napoleon, " for the tranquillity and loyalty of France during my absence." " Willingly," rejoined Fouché; " but you must gain great victories, and send us good bulletins to put into the Moniteur."

This hint was the origin of that system of official bulletins which, from this moment, Buonaparte issued from his head- quarters in all his campaigns; thus publishing to ail France whatever he had done, or was desirous that they should believe he had done. By this system he fed the French vanity with its favourite pabulum at pleasure, keeping the truth back by his strong hand on the press. Many of these bulletins he wrote himself, in that smart, dashing style which struck like the sudden movements of his armies, and filled France with the wonder of credence, while, at the same moment, they astonished the rest of the world with wonder at his unblushing falsehoods. The bulletin system was one of the most successful parts of his policy, fanning the flame of French agitation, elating the French people with the most unbounded confidence in him - a confidence which he took every means of justifying by the daring plans of his campaigns, and by the untiring exertions to obtain information on which to base his operations. Fouché not only impressed upon him the fact that he must have great victories, but furnished him with the machinery for insuring them. He put into his hands a band of the most accomplished spies and scouts which the world could supply. None but a Fouché, who, from long practice as head of the police of France, knew all the clever rogues in it, both French and foreign, could furnish such a troop. He had Germans in abundance for this German campaign, rascals of the first water, who knew the country well, and could penetrate everywhere. These, diffused through the Austrians, knew and reported all their movements, ascertained and betrayed their most secret intentions. Fouché corresponded with the diplomatists, and he had agents who cultivated the acquaintance of the trading Jews in Germany, who would sell their souls for money, and who had clients and connections in all quarters, even the highest. In the staff of every general, in the court of Vienna itself, he had his paid traitors, and the most vital secrets were betrayed to him. This part of the war system had been introduced with wonderful success in Italy, but Fouché had now perfected it; and the introduction of the bulletin practice crowned the whole with a sort of satanic perfection.

The projection of the campaign by Buonaparte was masterly in the extreme. The army, thrown forward for immediate action, he took care to have well supported by bodies of other troops so dispersed in Belgium, Holland, and France, that, at need, they could move forward and efface any temporary reverse, supply any loss by the casualties of battle, or bear down, by ever-advancing columns, an obstinate opposition. He harangued the troops at Strasburg, assuring them that they were but the advanced guard of the whole French people; if it were necessary, they would all rise at his command, and annihilate the confederation evoked by the hatred and the gold of England.

Mack, who was advancing rashly out of reach of any supporting bodies of troops, expected to encounter the French in front. He therefore took possession of Ulm and Memmingen, and threw his advanced posts out along the line of the Iller and the Upper Danube, looking for the French advancing by the way of the Black Forest. But Buonaparte's plan was very different. He divided his army into six grand divisions. That commanded by Bernadotte issued from Hanover, and, crossing Hesse, appeared to be aiming at a junction with the main army, which had already reached the Rhine. But, at once he diverged to the left ascended the Maine, and joined the elector of Bavaria at Würtzburg. Could Mack have penetrated Buonaparte's plans, he might have attacked his divisions in detail before they had recombined. Had Prussia been disposed to join the allies, there was an opportunity of striking a decisive blow in their favour by falling on Bernadotte's division with an overwhelming force; for Prussia had two hundred thousand men at command. And there was the greater plea, because Bernadotte could not reach the elector's headquarters without crossing Anspach, thus violating Prussian territory. Prussia professed greatly to resent this freedom; but Buonaparte knew too well the hesitation of the king to commit himself, and the French tendencies of his minister Haugwitz, to fear anything from their resentment.

The elector of Wurtemberg and the duke of Baden, through whose territories the French advanced, were in alliance with them. The five columns of the French army, under Ney, Soult, Davoust, Lannes, and Marmont, crossed the Rhine at different points, and entered Germany to the northward of Mack's position; Murat passing over at Kehl, and directing his course so as to confirm Mack in the persuasion that the French would approach him through the Black Forest. But it was the intention of Napoleon to get round the right wing of the Austrians, by keeping on the north bank of the Danube, and then crossing, so as to place himself betwixt Mack and Vienna. Soult therefore crossed at Speir, and directed his march on Augsburg, whilst Davoust, Vandamme, and Marmont, by different routes, approached Soult at Augsburg. Vandamme encountered an Austrian regiment on the bridge, at Donawerth, which defended it for a long time gallantly against his whole force. At Wertingen, betwixt Augsburg and Ulm, Murat and Lannes fell in with twelve battalions of Hungarian grenadiers and four squadrons of Austrian cuirassiers. The French consisted of eighty squadrons of horse. The conflict was long and terrible. The brave Hungarians formed themselves into squares, and repelled the French cavalry at the point of the bayonet. No impression could be made upon them till general Oudinot arrived with artillery and a body of grenadiers, when the Hungarians were already wearied with the battle. They were then beaten back by grape-shot and impetuous charges with the bayonet; but they retired in good order, with their faces to the foe, leaving a great number of the French killed and wounded. Had Mack had a hundredth part of the strategic talent attributed to him, he would have concentrated his forces in one powerful body, and cut through the cordon which Buonaparte was drawing around him, and, under good generalship, such soldiers as the Hungarians would have done wonders; but he suffered his different detachments to be attacked and beaten in detail, never being ready with fresh forces to support those which were engaged, whilst the French were always prepared for this object. Accordingly, Soult managed to surround and take one entire Austrian division at Memmingen, under general Spangenberg, and Dupont and Ney defeated the archduke Ferdinand at Guatzburg, who had advanced from Ulm to defend the bridges there. Ferdinand lost many guns and nearly three thousand men. This induced Mack to concentrate his forces in Ulm, where, however, he had taken no measures for supplying his troops with provisions during a siege. Had lie done this, lie might have held out long enough, in a place so strong, as to await the arrival of the Russians, who were now advancing on Moravia; or he might still have retired on Moravia himself, joined by the archduke John, who was descending from the Tyrol by forced marches; but Mack appeared perfectly paralysed, and seemed to see the French approach without power to resist or retreat. The archduke Ferdinand, general Schwartzenberg, Collowrath, and others, unable to infuse any spirit into him, cut their way, at the head of the cavalry, through the French lines, and gained Bohemia.

<<< Previous page <<< >>> Next page >>>
Pages: 1 2 3 4 <5> 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

Pictures for The Reign of George III - (Continued.) page 5

Pope Pius VII
Pope Pius VII >>>>
Lord Sidmouth
Lord Sidmouth >>>>
Coronation of Napoleon the First
Coronation of Napoleon the First >>>>
Conscript >>>>
Napoleon entering Milan
Napoleon entering Milan >>>>
City of Trieste
City of Trieste >>>>
The Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz >>>>
French soldier
French soldier >>>>
Birth-place of Lord Nelson
Birth-place of Lord Nelson >>>>
Plan of the Battle of Trafalgar
Plan of the Battle of Trafalgar >>>>
Lord Nelson mortally wounded
Lord Nelson mortally wounded >>>>
View of Peschiera.
View of Peschiera. >>>>
All the Talents
All the Talents >>>>
A Brazilian forest
A Brazilian forest >>>>
Statue of Napoleon
Statue of Napoleon >>>>
Jerome Buonaparte
Jerome Buonaparte >>>>
Sir John Duckworth
Sir John Duckworth >>>>
Trial of Palm
Trial of Palm >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About