John S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) Abbott.

The history of Napoleon Bonaparte (Volume 4) online

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Entered, acccrding to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight
hundred and fifty-five, by


in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of
New York.

Copyright, 1883, by SUSAX ABBOT MEAD.






The victorious Allies now assembled, with shouts of exultation, in the
great square of Leipsic. No pen can describe the horrible scene which the
interior of the city presented. The streets were filled with heaps of the dy-
ing and of the dead not merely of combatants, but of peaceful citizens,
aged men, women, and children. The houses were shattered and blown into
fragments by the terrific cannonade. Many parts of the city presented but
piles of smouldering ruins. Broken caissons, baggage-wagons, guns, and all
the enginery of war, were strewed in ruin around. Mangled horses, dismem-
bered limbs, and pools of blood, polluted the pavements.

The Emperors of Russia and Austria, with the King of Prussia, accom-
panied by a magnificent suite, and deafening the city with clarion notes of
triumph, entered by the southern barrier. At the same moment, Bernadotte,
also surrounded by war's most exultant pageant, entered by the eastern
gates. The Royalist party in Leipsic, who would regain opulence and pow-
er by the overthrow of the popular party, received the Allies with every de-
monstration of joy.

The friends of reform retired in silence and anguish to their dwellings, or
abandoned their homes and accompanied the retreating army, to escape per-
secution, imprisonment, and death. In the' explosions of artillery, and the
chimes ringing from the steeples, and the peals of martial music, they heard
the knell of German liberty. Their great friend, who, with heroism unex-
ampled, had so long held at bay all the despots of Europe, was at last struck
down. Germany was again delivered over, bound hand and foot, to Russian,
and Prussian, and Austrian absolutism. Beneath that impenetrable gloom
those nations still lie enthralled. Why God should thus, for a time, have
permitted despotism to triumph, is one of those mysteries which is reserved
for the revelations of a future day.*

The allied kings, who rested their claims to the throne on the doctrine of
divine right, condescended to forget the plebeian origin of Bernadotte, since

* " Two hundred and fifty pieces of cannon," says Alison, " nine hundred chariots and ammuni-
tion wagons, an incalculable quantity of baggage, the King of Saxony, two generals of corps, sev-
en generals of division, twelve of brigade, and thirty thousand other prisoners, constituted the tro-
phies during the three days of a battle, in which the loss of the French was upward of sixty thou-
sand men. The loss of the Allies was also immense ; it amounted to nearly eighteen hundred offi-
cers, and forty-one thousand private soldiers, killed and wounded in the three days' combat. A
prodigious sacrifice, but which, great as it is, humanity has no cause to regret, for it delivered Eu-
rope from French_bondage, and the world from revolutionary aggression."


they stood in need of those services which he was both able and willing to
render them. But Bernadotte himself admits that he felt that he was in an
uncomfortable position, and he no longer wished to participate in the slaugh-
ter of his countrymen. He was therefore soon removed from the camp of
the Allies, and was intrusted with an important distant command.

In the mean time, Napoleon, with his shattered army, continued his re-
treat rapidly toward Erfurth, which was about a hundred miles from Leipsic.
The Allies, to throw reproach upon his honorable name, shamefully circula-
ted through Europe the charge that Napoleon, immediately on crossing the
bridge, had ordered it to be blown up, willing to secure his own escape at
the expense of the lives of his friends. A story so confidently asserted was
generally believed, and Napoleon was represented as a monster of meanness
and selfishness ; and it was thought that some magical arts must have been
practiced upon the French soldiers to induce them to love, as they manifest-
ly did love, one thus deserving only detestation. The accusation was sub-
sequently proved to be false. It has now, with a thousand similar charges,
passed into oblivion. The effect, however, of these calumnies still remains
upon many minds.

On the day following the retreat, the French army, dejected, but still firm
and determined, passed over the plains of Lutzen, where, but a few months
before, they had obtained so decisive a victory. The Allies had now cross-
ed the river, and were vigorously pressing the pursuit. In five days Napo-
leon reached Erfurth. Here Murat, seeing clearly that the cause of the Em-
peror was declining, and that, in the overthrow of the French empire, the
crown of Naples would also be wrested from his brow, entered into secret
negotiations with the Allies, engaging, if they would support him on his
throne, that he would abandon Napoleon and attach himself to their cause.
He deemed Napoleon utterly ruined, and from the wreck of the fortunes of
his master, with an ignoble spirit, he wished to secure what he could for
himself. Under pretense, therefore, of going to his own dominions to obtain
re-enforcements, he abandoned the Emperor and departed for Naples.

Murat, though a fearless swordsman, and a man capable of sudden and
heroic impulses, was not a man of lofty spirit. Napoleon fully appreciated
his excellences and his defects. He had not forgotten Murat's base aban-
donment of his post on the Vistula. He fully understood the object of the
King of Naples in his present movement ; but the characteristic pride of the
Emperor would not permit him, in the hour of approaching ruin, to solicit
others to share his fall. When Murat called to take leave, Napoleon re-
ceived him kindly. He uttered not a word of reproach, stifled his wounded
feelings, and sadly, yet affectionately, embraced his brother-in-law, with the
full assurance that they would never meet again. It proved to be their last
interview. Murat went over to the Allies, and thus prevented Eugene from
marching from Italy to assist Napoleon. Murat is not, perhaps, severely to
be blamed. He was an impulsive man, of shallow intellect and of diluted
heart, and, by nature, incapacitated for any noble deed of self-sacrifice.

On the llth of January, 1814, a treaty was signed between the Allies and
Murat. By this treaty Murat engaged to furnish thirty thousand men, to
co-operate with sixty thousand furnished by Austria. Murat, taking com-


mand of this army of ninety thousand troops, made an attack upon the vice-
roy, Eugene Beauharnais, at Milan, and thus prevented him from moving to
the aid of the Emperor. For this act, which must ever remain an indelible
stain upon the character of Murat, the allied powers guaranteed to him and
his heirs the throne of Naples, which guarantee they subsequently perfid-
iously violated. The thirty pieces of silver were never paid.

We do but give utterance to the general admission even of Napoleon's en-
emies when we say that the magnanimity which he manifested during the
whole of this dreadful crisis was such as has never been surpassed.

Napoleon had with him but eighty thousand men. Six hundred thousand
were crowding fiercely in pursuit of him, to rush, like an inundating wave,
into France. He could no longer afford his friends any protection. Their
attempt to protect him would only result in their utter ruin. He called be-
fore him the troops of the various German contingents who still remained
faithful, released them from all further obligations to him, and, supplying
them with money and provisions, permitted them to retire to their homes,
where he knew that they would immediately be compelled to turn their
arms against him.

The King of Bavaria, as we have before mentioned, had abandoned his al-
liance with Napoleon, joined the coalition, and declared war against France.
Though he did this under compulsion, still, by passing over to the enemy
several weeks sooner than Napoleon had expected, he plunged the Emperor
into extreme embarrassment. The Bavarian army was now marching under
the guidance of the Allies, to cut off the retreat of the French. There was,
however, a corps of Bavarian troops still with Napoleon. They had re-
mained faithful to him, notwithstanding the defection of their sovereign.
Napoleon assembled these soldiers, who were bound to obey their lawful
government, addressed them in terms of gratitude for their fidelity, and dis-
missed them to return to their king, who would immediately be compelled
to direct their arms against the enfeebled bands of the French. He address-
ed a letter to his former ally, Maximilian, in which he wrote :

" Bavaria having disloyally, and without notice, declared hostilities against
France, I might, with justice, have detained these troops as prisoners of war ;
but such a step would destroy the confidence which I wish the troops in my
service to repose in me. I have, therefore, abstained from any act of retali-
ation." These soldiers were strongly attached to Napoleon ; but, yielding
to cruel necessity, they sorrowfully retired from the French ranks.

Napoleon then assembled the Polish troops, and gave them their option
either to make peace with the allied sovereigns upon the best terms in their
power, or to adhere to his broken fortunes.

These gallant soldiers, with entire unanimity, declared that they would
share the fate of the only monarch who, since the destruction of their coun-
try, had uttered a word of sympathy in their behalf.

As Napoleon had been compelled to weaken his forces in Spain, the pop-
ular cause was effectually suppressed there. Colonel Napier says,

" Lord Wellington's victories had put an end to the intercourse between
Joseph and the Spaniards, who desired to make terms with the French ; but
the people, not losing hope, formed a strong anti-English party. The ser-



viles, extremely bigoted both in religion and politics, had the whole body of
the clergy on their side. These doctrines were comprised in two sentences
an absolute king ; an intolerant Church. The liberals, supported and in-
stigated by all ardent innovators, by the commercial body and populace of
Cadiz, and taking as guides the revolutionary writings of the French philos-
ophers, were hastening onward to a democracy, without regard to ancient
usages or feelings, and without practical ability to carry their theories into
execution. Jealousy of England was common to all, and Inglesimo was
used as a term of contempt. Posterity will scarcely believe that when Lord
Wellington was commencing the campaign of 1813, the Cortes was with
difficulty, and by threats rather than reason, prevented from passing a law
forbidding foreign troops to enter a Spanish fortress."*

In this conflict, England expended on her own operations more than five
hundred millions of dollars. She subsidized Spain and Portugal with mill-
ions besides, and maintained all the armies, English, Spanish, and Portu-
guese, with her own supplies of clothing, arms, and ammunition. She con-
stantly employed in the Peninsula from thirty to seventy thousand British
troops, in addition to the countless armies she raised from Spain and Portu-
gal. Her naval squadron continually harassed the French, making descents
on the coast. She left the bones of forty thousand Englishmen strewed
over the plains and mountains of the Peninsula. The number of natives
who perished no tongue can tell. Two hundred thousand of her adversaries
were either killed, wounded, or taken prisoners ; and yet all this time
Napoleon was engaged with adversaries so much more formidable, that
he could hardly turn a passing glance toward his foes in Spain. General
Soult was left, with enfeebled forces, to resist as he could the Duke of Wel-

Most generously, at St. Helena, Napoleon apologized for the defection of
his allies. " To the honor of human nature," he said, " and even to the
honor of kings, I must once more declare, that never was more virtue mani-
fested than amid the baseness which marked this period. I never, for a mo-
ment, had cause to complain, individually, of the princes, our allies. The
good King of Saxony continued faithful to the last. The King of Bavaria
loyally avowed to me that he was no longer his own master. The generos-
ity of the King of Wurtemberg was particularly remarkable. The Prince
of Baden yielded only to force, and at the very last extremity. All, I must
render them this justice, gave me due notice of the storm that was gather-
ing, in order that I might adopt the necessary precautions ; but, on the other
hand, how odious was the conduct of subaltern agents ! Can military pa-
rade obliterate the infamy of the Saxons, who returned to our ranks for the
purpose of destroying us ? Their treachery became proverbial among the
troops, who still use the word Saxonner to designate a soldier who assassin-
ates another. To crown all, it was a Frenchman, a man for whom French
blood purchased a crown, a nursling of France, who gave the finishing stroke
to our disasters."!

Napoleon remained at Erfurth two days, reorganizing his army, and then
resumed his line of march. Swarms of Cossacks, savage in garb and in

* IS'apier's Peninsular War, vol. iv., p. 259. f Las Casas, vol. iii., p. 19.




character, hung upon his rear, not daring to venture on any formidable at-
tack, yet harassing the army by incessant annoyances. Blucher, with a
powerful force of Russians, Austrians, and Prussians, followed close behind,
ready to avail himself of any opportunity to crush the retiring foe. Napo-
leon pressed resolutely on for five days, and, after safely traversing some two
hundred miles, arrived, on the 30th of October, at Haynau.

Here the Bavarian government, active in its new alliance, and animated
by those now in power, who were hostile to France, had assembled an army
of sixty thousand Austrians and Bavarians, strong in artillery and in cavalry,
and had planted these forces in a formidable position, to cut off entirely the
retreat of Napoleon. But the French soldiers, indignant and desperate,
rushed recklessly upon their batteries, and, after a long and sanguinary bat-
tle, routed them entirely. During this conflict, in which thirty thousand
men, goaded by indignation and despair, charged the intrenchments where
sixty thousand were posted, Napoleon was anxiously walking backward and
forward on the highway, conversing with Caulaincourt. A bomb-shell fell,
and buried itself in the soft earth, close by their side. Caulaincourt imme-
diately placed himself before the Emperor, to shield him with his own body
from the effects of the explosion. The Emperor, paying no regard to the
shell, continued his conversation. Fortunately, the bomb sank so deep in the
moist ditch that it did not burst.


The Allies lost in this battle ten thousand men in killed and wounded.
The French troops then pressed rapidly forward, and in two days arrived at
Frankfort. At five o'clock the next morning, the 2d of November, the army
arrived at Mayence. Napoleon remained there three days, reorganizing his


troops, and making arrangements for defending the passage of the Rhine
from the advancing legions of the Allies. At eight o'clock at night on the
4th of November he departed for Paris, and at five o'clock in the afternoon
of the next day he arrived at St. Cloud.

It is said that Maria Louisa was in a state of dreadful embarrassment.
She almost dreaded to see Napoleon. Her father had treacherously turned
against her husband, and he was now marching, with hostile armies, to in-
vade France. As the Emperor entered her apartment, she threw herself
into his arms, hung her head upon his shoulder, and, bursting into a flood of
tears, was unable to articulate a syllable. Napoleon pressed her tenderly to
his bosom, soothed her with words of affection, and anxiously inquired for
their idolized boy. The beautiful child was brought in, and a touching


scene of domestic affection and grief ensued. Napoleon alone was calm.

He still clung to hope, and endeavored to alleviate the anguish of his wife

by the anticipation of brighter days.

j The victorious Allies, in the mean time, overran all Germany. All the

states of the Confederation of the Rhine were now arranged under their


"The lesser princes," says Sir Walter Scott, "had no alternative but to


declare, as fast as they could, their adherence to the same cause. Their
ministers thronged to the head-quarters of the allied sovereigns, where they
were admitted to peace and fraternity on the same terms, namely, that each
state should contribute, within a certain period, a year's income of their ter-
ritories and a contingent of soldiers double in numbers to that formerly ex-
acted by Bonaparte,/or sustaining the good cause of the Alliance"

St. Cyr, with thirty thousand men, was shut up in Dresden. He was soon
compelled, through famine, to capitulate. It was solemnly stipulated that he
and his troops should be permitted to return to France, upon condition of not
serving against the Allies till regularly exchanged. After St. Cyr, with his
emaciate and tottering troops, had marched out of the city, and the Allies
had taken possession, he was informed by the allied sovereigns that they
were dissatisfied with the convention which their general had concluded, and
could admit of no terms but such as provided for conducting the garrison as
prisoners of war into the Austrian states. They also, having now had Dres-
den in their possession seven days, having ascertained all its weak points,
and knowing that there was not food there to subsist its garrison for a single
day, mocked St. Cyr by saying that, if he were dissatisfied with these terms,
he might return again to Dresden.* By such an act of perfidy were thirty
thousand men carried off into the prisons of Austria. This fact may to some
seem incredible ; but it is admitted, in all its bald baseness, even by those
historians who most earnestly plead the cause of the Allies. Sir Archibald
Alison, though adding to the remark several ungenerous qualifications, says,
" In violating this convention, the allied sovereigns did not imitate the hon-
orable fidelity with which Napoleon observed the conditions of the capitula-
tion of Mantua, granted to Wurmser in 1796."

On the 29th of November, General Rapp, who was in Dantzic, with fifteen
thousand men, one half of whom were French and the rest Germans, was
also compelled by famine to surrender. " As in the case of Dresden," says
Sir Walter Scott, " the sovereigns refused to ratify the stipulations, which
provided for the return of the garrison to France, but made the commandant,
Rapp, the same proposal which had been made to the Marshal St. Cyr, which
Rapp, in like manner, declined. The detention of this garrison must also
be recorded against the Allies as a breach of faith, which the temptation of
diminishing the enemy's forces can not justify."

In reference to this capitulation, General Rapp himself says, " General
Houdelet and Colonel Richemont went to the enemy's camp, and concluded
a capitulation, in which the power of returning to France was particularly
guaranteed to us. A part of the articles had been already executed ; the
Russian prisoners had been sent back, the forts had been given up, when I
learned that the Emperor Alexander refused his ratification. The Duke of
Wurtemberg offered me to put things in their former condition. This was
a mockery ; but what could we do ? We had no more provisions. It was
necessary to be resigned. He managed things as he wished, and we took
the road to Russia." With such perfidy was Napoleon ever assailed. How

* " For how was it possible for the French commandant to be in the same situation as before
the capitulation, when the enemy had become completely acquainted with his means of defense and
resources'!" Sir Walter Seotf,


noble and magnanimous does his character appear when contrasted with
that of the Allies !

Rapidly, one after another of the garrisons which Napoleon had left behind,
numbering in all some eighty thousand men, fell into the hands of the co-
alesced powers, and feudal despotism again became dominant over all the
broad plains of Germany. The three great despotisms of Christendom, in
alliance with the Tory government of England, had quenched the flames of
republican liberty in blood. Nothing now remained but to march with a
million of bayonets into France, to overthrow the popular government there,
to force the Bourbons upon a people who had rejected them, to rivet upon
ignorant and superstitious Spain the chains of the most intolerable civil and
religious despotism, and then Europe would once again repose in the quietude
of the dark ages.

In speaking of this memorable campaign, Napoleon said at St. Helena,
" How was I perplexed, when conversing on this subject, to find myself the
only one to judge of the extent of our danger, and to adopt means to avert
it ! I was harassed on the one hand by the coalesced powers, who threat-
ened our very existence, and on the other by the spirit of my own subjects,
who, in their blindness, seemed to make common cause with them ; by our
enemies, who were laboring for my destruction, and by the importunities of
my people, and even my ministers, who urged rne to throw myself on the
mercy of foreigners. And I was obliged to maintain a good appearance in
this embarrassing situation ; to reply haughtily to some, and sharply to re-
buff others, who created difficulties in my rear, encouraged the mistaken
course of public opinion, instead of seeking to give it a proper direction, and
suffered me to be tormented by demands for peace, when they ought to have
proved that the only means of obtaining it was to urge me ostensibly to war.
However, my determination was fixed. I awaited the result of events, firmly
resolved to enter into no concessions or treaties which could present only a
temporary reparation, and would inevitably have been attended by fatal con-
sequences. Any middle course must have been dangerous ; there was no
safety except in victory which would have preserved my pow r er, or in some
catastrophe which would have brought back my allies. In what a situation
was I placed ! I saw that France, her destinies, her principles, depended on
me alone."

"Sire," said Las Casas, "this was the opinion generally entertained; and
yet some parties reproached you for it, exclaiming with bitterness, ' Why
would he connect every thing with himself personally ?' "

" That was a vulgar accusation," the Ernperor replied. " My situation
was not one of my own choosing, nor did it arise out of any fault of mine.
It was produced entirely by the force and nature of circumstances by the
conflict of two opposite orders of things. Would the individuals who held
this language, if, indeed, they were sincere, have preferred to go back to
the period preceding Brumaire, when our internal dissolution was complete,
foreign invasion certain, and the destruction of 1 ranee inevitable? From
the moment when we decided on the concentration of power, which could
alone save us, when we determined on the unity of doctrines and resources,
which rendered us a mighty nation, the destinies of France depended solely


on the character, the measures, and the principles of him who had been in-
vested with this accidental dictatorship. From that moment the public in-
terest, the State, was myself.

"These words, which I addressed to men who were capable of under-
standing them, were strongly censured by the narrow-minded and ill-dis-
posed ; but the enemy felt the full force of them, and therefore his first ob-
ject was to effect my overthrow. The same outcry was raised against

Online LibraryJohn S. C. (John Stevens Cabot) AbbottThe history of Napoleon Bonaparte (Volume 4) → online text (page 1 of 39)