Charles James Fox.

Napoleon Bonaparte and the siege of Toulon .. online

. (page 1 of 10)
Online LibraryCharles James FoxNapoleon Bonaparte and the siege of Toulon .. → online text (page 1 of 10)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

<^ - o « o ' ^<{,

•^ V



-^^ ^

























r: 'OS



A. Contemporary Accounts.

Reports in : ^ Archives de la Guerre a Paris ; Archives
Natioiiales a Paris: Manuscript Department, British

Museum : Public Record Office London.
Periodicals: Moniteur; The London Gazette; Gazeta

de Madrid.

B. Bibliography.

The Naval Chronicle, July to Dec. 1793. London,

Speeches of the Hon. W. Pitt 4 vols. London, 1806.
Speeches of the Hon. C. J. Fox 6 vols. London, 1815.
Precis historique sur les evenements de Toulon, d'lm-

bert, Paris, 1814.
Notes et pieces officielles relatives aux evenements de

Marseilles et de Toulon, Abeille, Paris, 1815,
Revolution royaliste de Toulon, de Brecy, Paris, 1816.
Parliamentary History of England Vol 30. London,

Memoires pour servir a I'histoire de France sous Na-
poleon ecrits a St. Helenepar Montholon 5 vols; par

Gourgard 2 vols. Paris, 1823.
Memoires politiques et militaires du General Doppet 1

vol. Paris, 1824.
Memoires de Freron Paris, 1824.
Memoires pour servir a I'histoire de la ville de Toulon

en 1793, Pons, Paris, 1825.
Historic de la Revolution frangaise Tome sixieme

Thiers, Paris, 1834.
Memoires du Prince de la Paix Don Manuel Godoy 4

vols. Paris, 1836.
Biographic de Napoleon Bonaparte, Coston, Paris, 1840.

1 Many of the reports, especially in the Archives de la Guerre, are full
of orthographical errors. I have copied them exactly as I found them.


Extraits de Memoires inedites du due de Bellune, Paris,

Memoires de Claude Victor Perrin due de Bellune

Paris, 1847.
Life and correspondence of Admiral Sir W. Sidney

Smith, Barrow 2 vols. London, 1848.
Memorials and correspondence of C. J. Fox, Russell

London, 1853.
Correspondance de Napoleon Vol. 1. Paris, 1853.
Journal and correspondence of William Lord Auck-
land 4 vols. London, 1862.
Oestreich und Preussen gegeniiber der Franzoesischen

Revolution bis zum Abschluss des Friedens von

Campio Formio, H. Hueffer, Bonn, 1868.
Memoires sur la guerre des Alpes tires des papiers du

Comte Ignas Tbaon de Revel, Turin, Rom, Florence

Vertrauliche Briefe des Freiherren von Thugut, von

Vivenot, Band I Vienna, 1872.
Life and Letters of Sir Gilbert Elliot first Earl of Minto,

1751 to 1806 3 vols. London, 1874.
Life of Thomas Graham Lord Lynedoch A. M. Dela-

voye London, 1880.
Bonaparte et son temps, 1769-99. 3 vols. Jung Paris,

Campaignes dans les Alpes pendant la Revolution

1792-93 Krebs et Morris, Paris, 1891.
Recueil des actes du Comite de Salut Public avec la

correspondance officielle des representants en mission.

F. A. Aulard Paris, 1894.
Memoires de Barras 4 vols. Duruy Paris, 1895-6.
The manuscripts of J. B. Fortesque Esq. Vol. 2 London,

Napoleon Bonaparte et les Generaux Du Teil, Baron

Joseph du Teil, Paris, 1897.
Toulon et les Anglais en 1793. Paul Cottin Paris, 1898.
La Jeunesse de Napoleon, Chuquet Paris, 1899.


The siege of Toulon in 1793 is interesting and important,
as a military event in the War of the First Coalition ; as a
political combination of the European Powers during the early
part of the same war; and as a personal incident in the life
of Napoleon Bonaparte. The following pages are the result
of a study of the siege in which I have tried to give special
attention to the second and third phases of the question. I
have come to the conclusion that the political importance of
the siege was considerable and that the English entered
Toulon unexpectedl}' and intended to hold it simpl}^ as a
pledge of indemnification ; and secondly that the role of
Bonaparte was very important and that he by directing
the course of this siege, had here for the first time an influ-
ence upon the events of his time and consequently enters
history. As the last point has been much disputed and as
the others have not yet been brought out, I have in attempt-
ing to demonstrate each, given as much as possible of the
material used, together with frequent references, allowing
him whom the subject may interest to draw his ow^n conclu-
sions, hoping however that they will coincide with those
which in my opinion are the logical and just ones.

The first accounts of Napoleon's actions were written dur-
ing, and under the influence of, the grandeur of the Consul-
ate and First Empire. The part he played at Toulon was
generally considered great'and brilliant; but this prevalent
opinion was based principally upon more or less inexact rem-
iniscences of those who took part in the siege with him.
Everybody accepted without going into particulars that the
First Consul, or Emperor, began his career at Toulon, where
his genius first attracted attention. At the Restau ration ro}^-
alists who had served at Toulon published accounts of the
siege, which with regard to the role of Bonaparte, had rather
the opposite tendenc3^ But as their principal aim was to


bring forward their own actions and thereby win the favor
of Louis XVIII, and as anti-Bonapartist statements needed
then no foundation on fact, these writings are of no ob-
jective value. They reflect but the anti-Bonapartist and
pro-English sentiment of the Court at this time. Thiers
throws some light on Bonaparte's role at Toulon, attributing
principally to him the fall of the city; but Thiers' Work was
to vast to permit him to make any special study of the af-
fair of Toulon. His account of it is filled with errors. Tlie
Memoirs of Barras (not published until 1895) furnish ample
but quite untrustworthy material to those who wish to les-
sen the role of Bonaparte at this siege. This same spirit of
hostility to Napoleon prevails in Jung's "Bonaparte et son
temps" He too denies the importance of the role of Bona-
parte at Toulon but he does not go much into particulars,
nor did he study the question without prejudice. The eager-
ness with which he seeks an opportunity of defaming the
name of Bonaparte is shown where he himself speaks of
Napoleon (page 372 vol. I) as an officer of 25 years when he
wrote the "Souper de Beaucaire", and then again deliber-
ately accuses him (page 396) of giving a false age in stating
that he was 25 after the siege of Toulon. Krebs and Morris
in their work on Campagnes in the Alpes give a good gen-
eral account of the siege, but the role of Bonaparte is passed
b}' with the mere assertion that in the official records noth-
ing is found to prove its importance. It is true that in the
documents of the Archives de la Guerre at Paris, no direct
statement can be found that Napoleon Bonaparte took a
very important part in the entire affair; but indirect proofs
are by no means wanting, either here or in the English offi-
cial reports. The two latest works on Toulon are those of
Cottin and Chuquet. Cottin leaves the role of Bonaparte
rather aside and using the English sources, writes on their
action at Toulon. His work has the value of publishing im-
portant documents hitherto inaccessible in printed form;
but with the same he has combined much doubtful detail


derived from rather untrustworthy and contradictory
sources. His book has an anti-English tendency and fails to
bring out the political importance of the affair of Toulon.
Chuquet's work, an enlargement of two articles published in
Cosmopolis, is of rather a popular character but it publishes
for the first time some letters of Bonaparte and other impor-
tant pieces. He goes into detail which is very difficult to
control and the sources of which he has not always care-
fully considered. The role of Bonaparte is emphasized, but
not in a manner convincing enough for a question so much
in dispute.

In publishing this small volume I wish to take advan-
tage of the opportunit}^ to express my sincere gratitude to
all my Professors at Heidelberg, and to mention my appre-
ciation of the kindness of the late Professor Erdmannsdorf-
fer and Professor Schafer, whose generous aid and hospitality
to foreigners I shall always try to emulate.





France in 1793 — Topographical description op Tou-
lon — Negotiations preceeding Surrender — Proc-
lamation OF Hood — Hood's Entrance — Arrival of
News in London — Political situation op Allies at
TIME OF Siege — Opinions on Hood's Declaration —
English idea as to Retention op Toulon.

Ill 1793 the French Revolution had advanced far in its
impetuous course. In its commenceraent ill defined, its
course hard to foresee, and uncertain, it had at its culmina-
tion formed itself into a definite, cruel and reckless system,
the Terror. Power had passed from the right to the extreme
left of the National Assembly, and there into hands which
were capable of holding and using it. The execution of
Louis XVI, the crowning act of the Revolution took place
at the beginning of this year; shortly after followed the re-
volt in the Vendee : the first attempt at military rule was de-
feated as Dumouriez went over to the Austrians: the Giron-
dists were overthrown by their more reckless and energetic
rivals : then followed the uprising of two-th,irds of the de-
partments and of many large cities, Lyons, Marseilles, Tou-
lon and Bordeaux. The situation in the interior of France
was very uncertain, and the dangers from without were
great. After Neerwinden Belgium was lost and the Austrians
advanced victoriously into Northern France. The Prussians
retook Mayence and put an end to its revolutionary exces-
ses. The Piedrngntese forced their way over the Alps, the
Spaniards came over the Pyrenees. The English were every-
where on the seas. It was under these conditions that France,
or more strictly Revolutionary France, stood alone against
the nations of Europe uniter] in the pursuit of their differ-
ent political ambitions, and in the hope of future advan-
tages. For whatever may have been the origin of the Revo-



lutionary Wars, the European nations, once united against
France, were striving after their own interests, and these
at the expense of France, who at this time seemed inevita-
bly lost. This however was not the case. Everyone knows
the Peace of Campio Formio which followed that of Basel
and others, yet it is by no means easy to explain clearly how
the Republicans performed the seemingly impossible and
forced upon the entire Continent such advantageous terms.
The history of the Siege of Toulon gives an insight into
these conditions, for one might almost say that here the
War of the First Coalition took place on a smaller scale.
The same forces stood opposing each other. On the one side,
\ the European powers, England, Spain, Sardinia, Naples
i even Austria, as well as the French Royalists and Emigres;
on the other the enthusiastic, almost fanatical, self-sacrific-
ing, but uncertain Republican army, directed by a few in-
genious leaders, among them Bonaparte and Victor, and
supported at home b}-^ an active energetic government under
the organizing genius of Carnot. Everything was sacrificed
to the object of the war. On the one side w^as discord, dis-
trust, jealousy, and ill-directed egotism. The best energy of
the European nations exhausted itself over the division of
spoils which were still to be won. On the other side was
geographic and political unity, together with a fanatical de-
votion to the one object. All passions, the ambition of the
demagogue and of the soldier, even the fear of the Repub-
licans, lead to the same end ; namely, the liberating of
France from the foreign invader. On the one hand it was a
question of obtaining certain advantages, in the distribution
of which lay the cause of future disagreement ; on the other,
it was a question of life and death ; and this struggle for
existence was carried on by energetic reckless men who had
risen by their own force and ability, and who in the choice
of thier means were unhampered by any traditional, relig-
ious or even human considerations.

To understand a siege it is necessary, first to have an idea

of the topographical and other military conditions of the
place in which it is carried on. In the year 1793 Toulon,
a city of some 28,000 inhabitants, was enclosed by a circle
of fortifications which dated from the time of Vauban, but
which"~'lm3^ been continually improved and were now in
fairly good condition. It was reputed one of the strongest
fortifications in Europe. On the land side Toulon is sur-
rounded by high mountains especially the massive ridge of
Mount Faron on the north. From the city one road leads to
Marseilles and another eastward toward Italy. The Riviere
Neuve flows from the north past the western side of the
city, into the inner of the two harbors, which are called the
Grande and Petite Rade. This river is dry in the summer.
The fortifications on the north-west were Fort Pomets and
the Redoute St. Andre (completed but not armed); on the
north-east, Fort Rouge, Fort Blanc, and the intrenched
camp, Ste. Anne. Mont Faron also protected the city on the
north. On the east, to defend the road to Italy was Fort La
Malgue. According to Napoleon, this fort was very carefully
built. It protected also the Grande Rade. Fort Ste. Catherine
and Fort L'Artigues, likewise on the east, were supported
by Mont Faron. On the west was Fort Malbousquet. It
was merely a temporary fortification, but important through
its position. Fort Missiessy was also on the west, on the
north shore of the Petite Rade. The entrance to the Grande
Rade was covered by Fort La Malgue, that of the Petite
Rade by Fort Grosse Tour, on the eastern side, and by the
coast batteries, Balaguier and Eguillette, on the western
side. In general, more importance had been placed on the
fortifications on the east of the city than on those on the
west. It was supposed that all attacks were to come from
the Italian side.

In Toulon, as in most of the cities and many of the De-
partments, there was a revolutionary and a Royalist party,
each striving to obtain power. In Toulon the Republicans
found support in the Kepublican army under Carteaux.

The Royalists, in accordance with their policy at that time,
sought heli3 from outside. ^ The English squadron had
been seen for weeks before Toulon, where h3r Admiral,
Lord Hood, stood watching the large French fleet in the
harbor. To destroy this formed part of his plan; which was
to win and hold for England the supremacy of the Mediter-
ranean. The Royalists of Marseilles and Toulon were in con-
stant communication, and were secretly forming plans. A
certain undecided portion of the population was to be won
over to their side. For some time they cherished the plan of
inviting the English to enter. In some manner the Englisli
representative in Turin, John Trevor, who was well in-
formed on the affairs of Italy and the Mediterranean, got
news of tliis intention and wrote as earl}' as July 21 to Hood,
informing him of the possibility of an appeal for help from
the people of Toulon. Hood seemed, however, to have given
the matter but little attention. His object was still the
French fleet. A few days before, on July 19, he had sent a
Lieutenant Cook into Toulon to negotiate an exchange of
prisoners; permitting him to wait twenty-four hours for a

Cook returned bringing with him a list of the French
ships in Toulon, and other useful information. It is possi-
ble, although all evidence is wanting, that Cook, who was
Hood's nephew, entered even at this time, into communica-
tion with the Royalists. The Royalists resorted to a trick
to win over the still undecided portion of the inhabitants.
The fear of a bread famine was held out before the people;
although there were provisions for three months at hand.
Thaon de Revel, the commander of the Piedmontese troops
wrote : " L'apprehension de la famine fut la consideration
qui decida les habitans. Les chefs avaient persuade a la
multitude que bientot elle manquerait de pain si 1' on ne

^ de Br€cy. " Un sentiment presque unanime inspira le projet d'en-
voyer un parlementaire au commandant anglais pour lui demander son
concours et son assistance."

traitait avec les Anglais ; quoique dans le fait il y eut du
grain pour plus de trois mois." ^ Nelson, who at the time of
the siege, was sailing in and out of the harbor of Toulon,
wrote " Famine had done what force could not have done." ^
In this manner the people were deceived and won over.
Negotiations with Hood commenced first from Marseille,
then from Toulon, the latter being of much more interest
to the English. At first one spoke of an importation of
grain into Marseille, finally of the conditional surrender of
Toulon to the English.

After holding a Council of War Hood gave out, on August
23, a preliminary declaration, which was soon followed by
a proclamation. Both were sent to Marseille and Toulon.
The declaration said : That if the people of Toulon and Mar-
seille declare openly for monarchy ; if the vessels are dis-
armed and the harbor and forts put provisionally in Hood's
charge, the people of Provence may count upon the assist-
ance of the British fleet: the rights of property and of
the individual shall be protected : further, that Hood's only
object is the restoration of pe^ace and that then all will be
returned " conformement a I'inventaire qui en sera fait ".
In the Proclamation Hood gives a "tableau fiddle" of the
"malheureuse condition" of the French nation during the
last four years, and declares that the European nations see
no remedy to such evils other than reestablishment of mon-
archy in France. He offers his protection and aid to estab-
lish ''un gouvernment regulier et de maintainir lapaix et la
tranquillity dans I'Europe." Hood's proclamation arrived
too late in Marseilles; the approaching Republican army
made it impossible to continue the negociations. In Toulon
the most stormy debates took place in the Sections when
Lieutenant Cook announced Hood's offer. The Royalists
carried off" the victory, in spite of all opposition of the other
party, and of the hostile attitude of the French ships in

1 Memoirs.

2 IvCtters Sept. 14tii. Nelson dispatches.


the harbor. The Sections decided for the entrance of the
EngUsh, but under several conditions. Among others; the
present constitution was to be replaced b}'^ the monarchical
government, under the Constitution of 1791;^ civil and
military officers were to retain their places. The provis-
ioning of the city was to be assured ; an inventory was to
be made of the vessels and of all material in the port. These
conditions were carried back by Cook to Hood, who ac-
cepted them. His present fleet was however not strong
enough to risk entering alone. He therefore asked assist-
ance from the Spanish Admiral Langara who at first re-
fused, but consented on a second invitation from Hood, who
accompanied this invitation with a cop}'^ of liis intended
proclamation. In the meantime Hood published his second
proclamation to the inhabitants of Toulon. It was dated
August 28th and declared : ' as the Sections of Toulon have
declared Louis XVII as their legitimate sovereign and for
monarchy according to the constitution of 1791, he takes
possession of Toulon and will guard it "en depot pour
Louis XVII jusqu' au retablissementde la paixen France".
The next day as the Spanish fleet appeared in sight Hood
sailed into the harbor, the Spanish following. ^ The sea-
men of the French fleet were divided into two parties, the
Jacobins and the Royalists. The first showed in the begin-
ning a determination to oppose the landing of the English,
but were held in check by the Royalists and the land bat-
teries. Finally, threatened by the English and Spanish, they
found it better to take advantage of a cliance to escape, than
to offer resistance. The crew of seven ships succeeded in
getting away. Hood and Langara received a most_£nthus-
iastic reception from the inhabitants and officials of Toulon.
An excellent understanding existed between the two ad-

1 This constitution was always referred to, and is spoken of in the
following pages, as the constitution of 1789-

2 Journal of Samuel lyord Hood. Admiralty Records. Public Record

mirals. A thousand marines and about 300 sailors from each
fleet were landed immediately at Fort LaMalgue.^

On September 12tli the news of the fall of Toulon reached
London by way of Turin. It caused in government circles
quite as much surprise as satisfaction. It was decided to col-
lect troops and send them to Hood without deranging the
plans of campaign in general. The first intention was to
send 5000 British troops, raised in Ireland, and 5000 Hes-
sians.^ A's early as September 14th, and at Pitt's sugges-
tion,'^ instructions were sent to Sir Morton Eden, the English
ambassador at Vienna to ask for Austrian troops. These
were promised, but never arrived. More about the negocia-
"tions concerning the will be given later.

Here it might be well to insert an account of the political
situation of Europe at this time. Three important questions
preoccupied more or less, the different cabinets. The war
against the Republic, affairs in Poland and Austria's re-
sumed plan of exchanging the Netherlands for Bavaria.
Nearly all the nations were joined in the struggle with
France but the attention of several of them Austria, Prussia,
Russia, an others was much diverted by the other two ques-
tions. The news of the second division of Poland -brought
Thugut, whose anti-Prussian policy was well known, into
power in Vienna. An understanding between Austria and
England was the result. This power, (England) as well as
the other European nations, now taking for granted, (and
under existing conditions it was almost pardonable) that
France would fall, directed its best thoughts and energy to
her future dismemberment, and to its share of the "Indem-
nification." The plans of the English government, having
taken rather a definite form, full instructions were sent to

1 Letter from Graham to Sir William Hamilton. Correspondence.
British Museum. Manuscript Department. Bgerton 2638.

2 Letter Dundas to Sir James Murray. Sept. 14. War Office. British
Army on Continent. 1793. Record Office.

^ L/etter Pitt to Grenville. Sept 7. Manuscripts of J. B. Fortescue.


Eden in Vienna. They were dated Whitehall. Sept. 7. ^
and contained, first, an account of Austria's plans, as they
have been stated in England, namely " the making perma-
nent acquisitions, to as large an extent as they are practi-
cable, in the Low Countries, in Alsace and Loraine, and in
the intermediate parts of the frontier of France. No similar
communication has as yet been made on the part of His
Majesty, but the circumstances and situation of affairs have
made it sufficiently evident that whatever indemnification
is to be acquired by this country must be looked for in the
foreign settlements and colonies of France. In these ob-
jects the interest of the two Courts are so far from clashing
that His Majesty has an interest in seeing the House of
Austria strengthen itself by acquisition on the French fron-
tier, and the very circumstance of that interest sliould make
tlie Emperor see with pleasure the relative increase of the
naval and commercial resources of this country beyond
those of France As to the Powers who are al-
ready engaged in the war it does not appear that much can
be done by Austria, at least in the present moment towards
securing the co-operation of Spain. But no endeavours will
be omitted by His Majesty for that purpose ". . . . In
speaking of the coolness between Austria and Sardinia,
" the idea once entertained by the Court of Vienna of ex-
tending the frontier of the Milanese at the expense of the
King of Sardinia is, I trust, abandoned, but if brought for-
ward again, must be strongly discouraged by you " . . . .
As regards Prussia, "it is obvious that the interest of the
Emperor is as much concerned as that of His Majesty in
securing even at the expense of some sacrifice the co-opera-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Online LibraryCharles James FoxNapoleon Bonaparte and the siege of Toulon .. → online text (page 1 of 10)