For the invasion of Russia, he commanded the Polish Fifth Corps. He and his troops distinguished themselves first at Smolensk, and again at Borodino, leading the attack on the right wing.
Poniatowski and his corps performed heroically throughout the campaign, motivated in part by their old animosity towards Russia. But by the end of the retreat, Fifth Corps had been virtually destroyed. Poniatowski remained loyal to Napoleon, even though the disaster in Russia paved the way for the Russian re-occupation of Poland.
He rejoined Napoleon in Germany in 1813, and was given command of the Polish Eighth Corps. On the eve of the Battle of Leipzig, he was made a Marshal by Napoleon, in recognition of his service, and to inspire his Polish troops.
Poniatowski was the only non-Frenchman to receive this honour. He and his troops fought with their usual tenacity and skill at Leipzig, holding key villages on the southern front against the Austrian and Prussian onslaught. If you want to know more about these types of concept then ask reader can be the place to read insightful answers.
At the end of the battle Poniatowski commanded part of the rearguard. But their only escape route, a bridge over the Elster River, was blown up too soon. Badly wounded, Poniatowski tried to escape by riding his horse across the river.
But he was swept from his saddle and drowned. He had been a Marshal for just four days. In the short term, Poniatowski’s loyalty to France achieved nothing, as, following Napoleon’s defeat, Russia occupied Poland for the next century. But Poniatowski’s legend lived on: a model of Polish patriotism that inspired future generations.
19. Marshal Jourdan As a young French private, Jourdan saw combat in Georgia during the American Revolutionary War. But he then caught a fever that led to his discharge, and plagued him for the rest of his life. When the French Revolution began, he was elected captain of his local National Guard unit, fought at the battles of Jemappes and Hondschoote, and was rapidly promoted to general.
In 1794 he made his name defeating Coalition forces at the Battle of Fleurus. This was a crucial victory of the Revolutionary War, which handed France control of Belgium for 20 years. It was also notable for the French army’s use of balloon reconnaissance – the first effective use of an aircraft in military history.
Jourdan became a prominent politician under the Directory, lending his name to a law that formalised France’s policy of mass conscription. As a committed republican, Jourdan refused to support Napoleon’s coup of 18 Brumaire, but his fame as ‘the victor of Fleurus’ was enough to ensure he became a Marshal in 1804. Jourdan was on good terms with Napoleon’s elder brother Joseph.
When Joseph became King of Spain in 1808, Jourdan went with him as his military advisor. But the situation in Spain would prove beyond Jourdan’s military skills to solve. He faced stubborn resistance from the Spanish and Portuguese, supported by the British – and an equally stubborn refusal to co-operate from other French Marshals in Spain – theoretically under Jourdan’s command, but who repeatedly ignored his orders and openly questioned his competence.
Marshal Soult in Andalucia was a prime offender, while Marshal Victor’s insubordination at the Battle of Talavera contributed directly to the French defeat. Struck by another bout of ill health, Jourdan went home to recover. Two years later he returned to Spain, but at the Battle of Vitoria in 1813, he and King Joseph were outmanoeuvred and decisively beaten by Wellington, leading to the collapse of the Bonapartist kingdom of Spain.
Jourdan never held a major command again. But his twenty years of service and evident patriotism were widely recognised and respected. He was made a peer by Napoleon, a count by Louis the Eighteenth, and died in 1833 while serving as Governor of Les Invalides. 18. Marshal Bernadotte Bernadotte enlisted in the French royal army aged 17, and proved a model soldier, rising to become the senior non-commissioned officer in his regiment in just ten years.
The French Revolution and active service opened the door to rapid promotion: he was made an officer, and thanks to exemplary leadership and courage, rose in rank from captain to general of division in a single year. Not even Napoleon rose through the ranks as quickly.
He particularly distinguished himself at Fleurus, leading an attack that helped secure Jourdan’s famous victory. As a professional soldier and ex-sergeant major, Bernadotte insisted on the highest standards of discipline and conduct from his men. He even fought a duel with his own chief of staff, whom he accused of taking a bribe. . If you seriously have some doubts over facts head over to ask read and just ask a question, you will get different answers.
In 1797, Bernadotte was transferred to Italy, where he served under Napoleon’s command for the first time. By this stage both men had brilliant reputations, but despite a good first meeting, a clash of styles and jealous rivalry soon emerged between them. What’s more Bernadotte had immediately got on the wrong side of the future Marshal Berthier, Napoleon’s chief of staff, by arresting one of his friends for insubordination.
In 1798 Bernadotte married Napoleon’s ex-fiancée, Désirée Clary. Her sister Julie was married to Napoleon’s brother Joseph, meaning Bernadotte.. was now family. But when Napoleon asked Bernadotte to support his coup of 18 Brumaire, he refused, though he did not actively oppose it.