A brief spell in charge of the Army of the Rhine demonstrated that Augereau was not suited for high command, as his unruly entourage and obsession with plunder caused chaos at headquarters. As a republican, Augereau initially opposed Napoleon’s seizure of political power, but soon sensed which way the wind was blowing, and pledged support. Created a Marshal in 1804, status, wealth and declining health served to mellow Augereau’s behaviour.
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He commanded Seventh Corps in the 1805 campaign, but was held in reserve, and missed the great battles of Ulm and Austerlitz. The following year, he was in the thick of the fighting at Jena, leading Seventh Corps against the Prussian southern flank. At Eylau in 1807, Augereau was so ill he had to be strapped to his horse, but led Seventh Corps into battle in terrible winter conditions. If you want to know more about these types of concept then ask reader can be the place to read insightful answers.
Ordered to advance, his corps lost its way in a blizzard, was mown down by Russian guns, charged and virtually destroyed. Augereau himself was hit, and crushed under his own horse. He returned to France to recover, but was never the same again. His energy and zeal were gone. During Napoleon’s war in Spain, he was sent to replace Saint-Cyr as commander of the Army of Catalonia. He completed the grim, 7-month siege of Girona, but was soon replaced by Macdonald for his lacklustre performance.
In 1812, Augereau commanded depots and reinforcements in the rear, as the Grande Armée marched to its destruction in Russia. However at Leipzig he was briefly back to his best, inspiring his small corps of conscripts to fight for several key villages in the south, in the face of relentless Austrian attack.
In 1814 Napoleon gave Augereau command of the Army of the Rhône. But he surrendered Lyon without a fight, and on news of Napoleon’s abdication, denounced his former Emperor as ‘a man who, having sacrificed millions of victims to his cruel ambitions, has not known how to die like a soldier.’ When Napoleon returned from exile in 1815, Augereau proclaimed his loyalty once more, but the Emperor was not interested.
Augereau was stripped of his baton, and died the next year. 16. Marshal Lefebvre François Lefebvre was a sergeant with 16 years’ service in the elite Gardes Françaises when the French Revolution broke out. When the Guard was disbanded, he became an officer in the Paris National Guard, and received the first of many wounds protecting the royal family from an angry mob.
Every inch the soldier, the Revolutionary Wars brought Lefebvre opportunity for active command and rapid promotion: in just two years he rose from captain to general, establishing a reputation as a formidable divisional commander: a good tactician, brave, energetic, and attentive to the needs of his men. His chief of staff, the future Marshal Soult, acknowledged that he learned much from Lefebvre’s example.
In 1799 Lefebvre commanded the Paris military district. Not much impressed by politicians, when Napoleon asked him to support a coup, he was all for it, declaring, “Yes! Let’s throw the lawyers into the river!” In 1804 Napoleon made Lefebvre an Honorary Marshal – honorary, because Napoleon assumed Lefebvre would prefer a quiet life in the Senate, after a decade’s active service with the scars to prove it.
But he’d underestimated Lefebvre, who pleaded for a frontline role… so the Emperor gave him command of the Imperial Guard infantry for the Jena campaign. The next year, Lefebvre commanded the siege of Danzig, inspiring the troops of Tenth Corps by leading one counter-attack in person.
After the successful conclusion of the siege, Napoleon awarded Lefebvre the title Duke of Danzig. Lefebvre’s record as a corps commander was mixed – in Spain he exasperated Napoleon by twice ignoring orders. But in 1809, when Archduke Charles of Austria launched a sudden attack on Bavaria, Lefebvre’s Bavarian Seventh Corps was crucial in slowing the enemy advance… until Napoleon arrived to take charge.
He was then given the difficult task of suppressing a popular revolt in the Tyrol, led by Andreas Hofer, which he achieved despite some early setbacks. For the invasion of Russia, Lefebvre commanded the infantry of the Old Guard. During the retreat from Moscow, the 57-year-old Marshal insisted on marching on foot, at the head of the Guard, all the way.
At the end of the retreat, he was devastated to learn that his son, a 27-year-old general, was among nearly 100,000 men who had not survived the march. He had been Lefebvre’s last surviving child… of fourteen. After a year recovering from exhaustion and grief, Lefebvre returned to lead the Old Guard one last time in the defence of France, and was in heavy fighting at Montmirail and Montereau. If you seriously have some doubts over facts head over to ask read and just ask a question, you will get different answers.
But in April 1814, he was one of the Marshals who confronted Napoleon with the reality of his position, and forced him to abdicate. Lefebvre and his wife, an ex-washerwoman turned Duchess, were famous for their lack of airs and graces, for honest, blunt speech, and for always helping out old comrades.
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