As a fiery republican, and former close ally of Revolutionary leader Georges Danton, his support was politically useful for Napoleon. Brune joined the army during the Terror – the most extreme period of the Revolution. His political connections ensured rapid promotion, and he was sent to help put down a counter-revolutionary revolt in Bordeaux.
In 1795, as a 30-year-old brigadier general, he helped Napoleon disperse a royalist mob in Paris, with the famous ‘whiff of grapeshot’. Brune then served with Napoleon in Italy, fighting in several of his famous early victories.
He won a reputation as a fierce divisional commander, and enthusiastic plunderer of Italian towns and churches. In 1798, he commanded the French occupation of Switzerland, while extorting 200,000 francs from the wealthy Swiss communes, the equivalent of several million dollars today. If you want to know more about these types of concept then ask reader can be the place to read insightful answers.
It was said that Brune’s personal carriage was so laden with gold when it left Switzerland, that it immediately broke down The next year he won his most important victory while commanding French forces in Holland, defeating an Anglo-Russian army at the Battle of Castricum, and saving France from invasion. But a short, calamitous spell commanding the Army of Italy convinced Napoleon that Brune was not fit for high command.
Instead he sent him to be ambassador to the Ottoman Empire – where in 1804 he learned that he’d been made a Marshal. But Brune’s lack of delicacy, combined with a towering sense of self-importance, did not make him a successful diplomat.
He was recalled to France, but as Governor of the Hanseatic Ports, blundered again, drafting a treaty with Sweden that failed to make any mention of the French Emperor. Whether a deliberate insult or act of incompetence, Napoleon was furious, and Brune was sacked. Brune spent the next seven years at his country estate.
He bitterly opposed the return of the Bourbon monarchy in 1814, and rallied to Napoleon when he returned from exile the next year. But in the tumult following Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, Brune was cornered by a royalist mob in Avignon, murdered, and tossed into the River Rhône. 24.
Marshal Sérurier Sérurier was another of the four Honorary Marshals, whom Napoleon wished to recognise for past service. In contrast to Brune, Sérurier was a professional soldier of the old school, a veteran of the Seven Years’ War, and a stern disciplinarian.
This background was not necessarily an asset during the French Revolution, when any officer who’d served in the royal army was viewed with suspicion. But Colonel Sérurier’s training and diligence were soon recognised as assets to the new French republic.
By 1795 he was a general serving with Napoleon in Italy, where his stand against corruption and looting won him the nickname ‘the Virgin of Italy’. Sérurier was a reliable if unspectacular commander, who won an important victory at Mondovi, at a crucial moment in Napoleon’s rise to fame.
The following year, he accepted the Austrian surrender at the end of the long siege of Mantua. Two years later, fighting under General Moreau’s command, Sérurier and his division were cut off by the Russians, and forced to surrender. Released on parole, he was back in Paris in time to support Napoleon’s coup d’êtat of 18 Brumaire. Sérurier then retired from active command, but Napoleon, remembering his past service, made him an Honorary Marshal, and Governor of Les Invalides, the retirement home and hospital for old soldiers.
There, shortly before the fall of Paris in 1814, Sérurier oversaw the burning of more than a thousand captured flags and standards, to prevent them falling into Allied hands. 23. Marshal Kellermann Kellermann was another Honorary Marshal, the oldest at 68, and famed throughout France as the ‘Saviour of the Revolution’. If you seriously have some doubts over facts head over to ask read and just ask a question, you will get different answers.
A career soldier from a middle-class background, he’d seen distinguished service as a cavalry officer in the Seven Years War. At the beginning of the Revolutionary Wars, he was a general commanding a frontier army at the moment of greatest crisis – when it seemed foreign invasion was about to stamp out the Revolution, and restore the ancien régime.
But at Valmy, in September 1792, Kellermann’s Army of the Centre stood its ground, and with a ferocious artillery barrage, persuaded the Prussian army to withdraw. Valmy was not a stunning tactical victory, but it was a turning point of history, that saved the infant French republic. When the Revolution took a more radical turn, even a war hero like Kellermann became suspected of royalist links, and spent a year in prison under the threat of the guillotine.
Acquitted and restored to command, he was poised to launch a new offensive in Italy, when he was side-lined, first by General Schérer, then in favour of a rising new talent, General Bonaparte. Kellermann later specialised in army administration and training, a role he continued to perform under Napoleon, whilst also entering politics and serving as president of the Senate.
His son, General François Étienne Kellermann, followed in his father’s footsteps, serving as one of Napoleon’s best cavalry commanders. 22. Marshal Grouchy When Napoleon returned from his first exile in 1815, he created one last Marshal for the upcoming campaign – Emmanuel de Grouchy.
Although now infamous for failing to march to Napoleon’s aid during the Battle of Waterloo, up to that moment, Grouchy had had a long and distinguished military career.