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Ney: Marshal of France Volume 2—1799-1805

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Ney: Marshal of France Volume 2—1799-1805
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Author(s): Antoine Bulos
Date Published: 2009/5
Page Count: 320
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-663-2
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-84677-664-9

Volume two of Ney's early career

The second volume of Bulos' account of Marshal Ney's early career is Ney: Marshal of France. It picks up the story in 1799 and concludes in 1805. Ney's star is rising and he is more and more coming to the attention of the First Consul, Napoleon Bonaparte. This volume covers the battle of Hohenlinden, his administration of Switzerland before turning to the camp at Boulogne and the preparations for the invasion of England and the subsequent campaign leading to victory at Ulm. These essential volumes for those interested in the Napoleonic epoch are available in soft back and hard cover with dust jacket for collectors.

Ney's men were overpowered with fatigue: during three days they had obtained neither provisions nor rest The rain fell in torrents, the ground was soaked with water, and all the evils of a military life seemed to have befallen these brave soldiers at the same time. But Berthier's despatch was pressing and Ney directed General Malher to make preparations for the march.<br>
On the 10th, at three o'clock in the morning, this general reached Riedhausen, and resuming his march at dawn of day, advanced towards Guntzburg. The road was broken up, the country intersected with marshes, and it was with the greatest difficulty that he effected his movement. He at length reached the banks of the river. Ney had indicated to General Malher a ford which he had formerly known, and which no doubt still existed, directing him to try its depth, and stating what parts of it seemed best calculated to afford him a passage.<br>
But Malher cared not for obstacles; indifferent as to the depth of the water, he formed his columns and led them to the attack. Marcognet being ordered to force Guntzburg, opened his fire, fell with his whole force upon the Tyrolians who defended the approaches to the Danube, and carrying all before him, cut the men to pieces and took their guns. He then dashed into the river, crossed the first branch, seized the island, and reached the bridge across the second branch. The timbers supporting the bridge were cut away; he however attempted to set them up again, but grape-shot being poured without intermission upon his troops he was forced to abandon the undertaking and retire to the skirt of the wood.<br>
Ney when informed of the resistance which Malher encountered, sent the second division to his assistance; but arrived too late, General Labassée having been more successful than his colleague. This latter general had reached the point indicated in his instructions. Neither the difficulties of the of the ground, nor the fire of the infantry, nor the thunder of the artillery, could stop him. He reached the bridge of Reseinsberg, sprang upon the platform, crossed it in an instant, and rushing upon the Austrian troops through a very destructive fire, cut many of them to pieces and put the remainder to flight. These be pursued, drove into the place, and took possession of the heights.
The Austrian army, almost entirely assembled under the walls of Guntzburg, immediately came up and renewed the action, which every instant became hotter and more deadly. General Malher advanced with the rest of his troops to the assistance of his colleague. The Austrians were thrown into confusion, and their infantry entered the place, which they dared not again leave. But their cavalry still held out; its confidence was not yet shaken, and it persisted in its attempts to force the heights occupied by the brave 59th.<br>
It advanced with great gallantry towards this regiment, but, being constantly repulsed by a well-sustained fire, as often returned to the charge with fresh fury. Five times it was driven back, and still it was not discouraged: it rallied, re-formed, and attacked again. The gallant 59th lost its best officers; Colonel Lacuée was killed, and two chefs-de-battailon were hors de combat The regiment, eager to avenge its losses and obtain satisfaction for these repeated desperate assaults, made a mighty effort, and by its fire completely disorganised this obstinate cavalry which it at length forced to withdraw from the field. Malher thus invested the place and entered it before daybreak.<br>
The second division was just in sight, and Ney himself, with two-thirds of his force, appeared upon the right bank. He had forced the passage of the river, captured the cannons, the colours, and about a thousand men. The Emperor expressed his satisfaction at this successful operation, but still persisted in believing that the enemy were manoeuvring upon the Iller, and pressed Ney to advance and take possession of Ulm. “He left it to him to march as he thought proper in order to effect this object, but the place must be surrounded by the 11th; this was important in every point of view.”<br>
Ney prepared to make the attempt: Loison pushed on by the right bank, Dupont was directed to approach the left, and Baraguey-d'Hilliers, who was at Stolzingen with the dragoons, received orders to proceed towards Languenau, and take up a position behind Albeck, which he was to support. Dupont was to provide ladders, timbers, and every other implement necessary for scaling, without, however, making any attempt till further orders. But, in a course of such rapid events, each hour brings its particular incident—each instant leads to fresh combinations. On a sudden, intelligence arrived that the Russians had begun to appear upon the Inn. The French Emperor hastened to meet them, and Murat took the command of the right wing. This prince, being master of the enclosed area which contained the Austrian army, fancied likewise that he must give them the coup-de-grace upon the Iller, and consequently proceed thither in search of them. It was to no purpose that Ney argued against this opinion, urging that the archduke, having left Guntzburg at the head of ten regiments of infantry and several corps of cavalry, had no doubt proceeded to Ulm where fifteen thousand men had arrived from Schaffhausen the day before; that all tended to show that the Austrian prince aimed at cutting off the French communications, and intended to carry on his operations by the left bank.
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