Napoleonic Literature
Napoleon and His Marshals - Vol. II
Chapter XV
MARSHAL VICTOR

His Campaign in Italy— His Regiment named the Terrible— Bravery at Marengo— At Friedland— Defeat at Talavera— Terrible Passage of the Beresina— His Last Efforts for France— His Disgrace— Is Wounded.


    VICTOR PERRIN was born at Marche, in the department of Vosges in 1766. His parents were humble, and his early advantages nothing. Ignorant of books and the world in which he was to play such a conspicuous part, he entered, when but fifteen years of age, the artillery as a private.
    His first appearance on the surface of things is at the siege of Toulon, where Napoleon also took his first step toward power. These two young soldiers, both in the artillery, had then an opportunity to see how each other fought. In the fierce attack on Fort Eguillette, Victor exhibited his two great characteristics, coolness in the midst of danger, and impetuosity in attack. He was then twenty-seven years old, and three years after, Napoleon, not forgetting the fearless artilleryman of Toulon, called him to his side in his first campaigns in Italy. During those three years, however, he was not idle, but conducted himself gallantly in the eastern Pyrenees, where he fought as a general of brigade.
    There could be no better school for Victor than the campaigns he passed through by the side of Bonaparte. Amid the excitement of those constant battles and astounding victories, he seemed to have a new life imparted to him; and catching the inspiration which the whole army seemed to have derived from Bonaparte, he stormed over the battlefields of Laono, Dego, La Favorita, Alexandria and Novi, like one who thought himself invulnerable. At Mantua, whither Bonaparte had marched with such rapidity day and night after the battle of Rivoli, to succor Augereau, he astonished oven Massena by the overwhelming fury of his attack.
    Provera was coming up to succor Wurmser, who had been driven into Mantua, and it was to prevent the junction of these two generals that Bonaparte had made such an unparalleled march from Rivoli. Massena was placed on one an of Provera, and Victor on the other, on the morning of the combat. Both were successful in the execution of their orders, but Victor, at the head of the 57th regiment, surpassed even the renowned Massena. When the signal for the attack was given, he rushed on and over the enemy with such ferocity and astonishing power that they were perfectly stunned. Amid the impetuous onsets and unparalleled bravery that characterized the whole campaign, nothing like it had been seen. The charge at Lodi and Arcola seemed the measured tread of self-collected soldiers compared to it. It was not the onset of determined or enthusiastic men—not the headlong charge of Augereau, sweeping furiously through the ranks. It was something more than excitement—the whole regiment, with Victor at its head, seemed suddenly to have been carried away, one and all, by a fierce frenzy, which imparts unnatural physical strength. Resistance was useless. The steady ranks went down before them, like grass before the mower. Rolled back on themselves, they parted, and fell along the sides of that resistless regiment, as if it were made of adamant. With his eye flashing fire, and the smoke of battle wreathing in clouds around him, Victor strode on in front, like some war-god of old. Artillery, infantry, cavalry, went down, one after another, in their passage—the close fire of batteries and the firm charge of the bayonet, all disappeared where they moved. Heedless alike of danger or destruction, they took the storms of grape-shot that tore through the ranks without a shudder. Their rapid tread shook the ground over which they passed, and their firm array was like a wall of iron against every assault. Bonaparte had charged at Lodi and Arcola, as he had seen no man do before, and, fresh from the fierce-fought battle of Rivoli, was not likely to be astonished at any deed of daring; but Victor's charge for a moment took his mind from everything else. The whole army, which had been accustomed to heroic deeds, beheld it with amazement, and when the battle was over, and the victory won, it gave that regiment, by general acclamation, the name of "The Terrible," which it ever after bore. What a fearful baptism that must have been which could compel the "Army of Italy" to affix such a name to the regiment that received it! For Augereau, Massena, and Bonaparte to apply such a title, signifies more than words can convey.
    At Austerlitz, Napoleon reminded this regiment of its name, and saw it with pleasure sustain its dread title. At the battle of Tann, twelve years after its christening, it also maintained its old reputation, breaking six regiments to pieces in succession, in a charge. In his bulletin home, Napoleon made honorable mention of it.
    At Marengo, he also exhibited those great qualities, which made him so conspicuous in the after wars of the Empire. He opened that great battle, and was second to none but Lannes on that eventful day. Stationed along the little stream of Fontanone, he received the first shock of the Austrian army, as it defiled over the Bormida. Bonaparte was ignorant of the design of the Austrians to give battle on the plains of Marengo, but with the first thunder of cannon, an aid-de-camp from Victor came galloping into his presence, informing him that the enemy, with all his force, was deploying from the bridge. I have already spoken, in my description of the battle of Marengo, of the firmness with which he met the shock of the whole Austrian army, and stood muzzle to muzzle with their ranks for two hours, till Lannes came up. Perhaps there never was an instance in which such an inferior force was held so long in an open field exposed to so close, constant and murderous a fire. The discharges on both sides were rapid as lightning, and it was one incessant flash and peal of musketry and cannon along the Fontanone, till the line formed by Victor's and Lannes's divisions as it stretched across the field, now sallying backward, and now springing to its place again, looked like a vast serpent of fire waving to and fro in the plain.
    For his heroism on this day he received a sabre of honor, which he most richly deserved.
    At the peace of Amiens, he was appointed ambassador to the court of Denmark, where he remained till the rupture of the treaty by England, and the commencement of the war. At Jena, while leading his division forward, he received a contusion from a spent ball, which confined him to his bed for several days.
    A few days before the battle of Eylau, while going to Stettin at the command of the Emperor, he was taken prisoner. Apprehending no danger, he was riding along in his carriage, with only one aid-de-camp and a servant, when twenty-five Russian hussars came galloping up, and seized him as a prisoner of war.
    Being exchanged, he was sent to besiege the strongly fortified town of Graudetz, and soon after led the first corps into battle at Friedland. When Ney's mighty column was checked in its advance and rolled back over the field, it fell on Victor moving rapidly to the attack. The latter, steadying his troops by a powerful effort, checked both friend and foe, and allowed Ney to rally his men again to the charge. These two chieftains then moved together upon Friedland—stormed through its streets, though defended desperately at every step, and finally drove the routed enemy over the Alle. Side by side with Ney, Victor did not suffer this day by the comparison. His charge was as terrible, and the movement of his column as steady, as that of the "bravest of the brave"; and for the great services he rendered, was made, after the battle, Marshal of the Empire.
    The peace of Tilsit soon followed, and Victor was appointed Governor of Berlin, and during the fifteen months of his administration exhibited the high qualities of a good and wise ruler, and left with the esteem and love of all the inhabitants.
    In 1808 he was sent to Spain. He won the battle of Espinosa for Soult, and the next year, while operating in La Mancha, routed the Spaniards at Ucles, and took 15,000 prisoners. Being then ordered to support Soult in his invasion of Portugal, he proceeded on his mission, though with a tardiness that has not left him free from blame. He, however, defeated the enemy at Cuidad Real, and pushed on to the Gaudiana. Here be won the battle of Medellin, routing n army of 35,000 men, with one of little over 16,000—took several thousand prisoners, and left the field covered with the dead. So utter was the rout, that Cuesta, the Spanish general, was not able for several days to rally a single battalion.

BATTLE OF TALAVERA.

    The next July the useless battle of Talavera was delivered, ostensibly by King Joseph, but in fact by Victor. Disregarding the sound advice of Soult, and following that of Victor, Joseph met with a defeat, which though of no advantage to the enemy, might have been prevented. Jourdan was opposed to the marshal's combinations, but the latter was so well convinced of their excellence that he declared, if they failed, military science was useless. It was a scorching day on which the battle was fought, and from morning till noon all was quiet, while the soldiers of the two armies descended to a stream in the valley between, to quench their thirst, and accosted each other in terms of familiarity across the narrow space that separated them. But about one o'clock the rolling of drums along the French lines announced to the allies that the enemy was preparing for the attack. Victor gave the signal, and eighty cannon opened their destructive fire, and the light troops went sweeping onward with the rapidity of a thunder-cloud over the heavens—while the deep, dark columns marched sternly after, and charged with terrible strength the English lines. But the close and well directed fire of the artillery, and the rapid volleys of the infantry as they closed around the heads of these columns, enveloping them in one sheet of flame, that swept like billows along, their sides, was too much for human courage, and after bravely struggling, they fell back in disorder.
    After various successes and reverses, the French seemed about to gain the day. The English center was broken, and Victor's column's marching triumphantly through it. But one brave English regiment, advancing amid the routed and disordered multitude, and opening to let the fugitives through, and forming in beautiful order when they had passed, marched straight upon the pursuing columns from the right side, and poured its rapid fire into the dense ranks. Closing on the foe in such steadiness and firmness, these few soldiers arrested the progress of the entire mass, and the artillery being brought to bear, and the cavalry charging in flank, the tide of success was turned; and victory, which seemed a moment before in the hands of the French, was wrested from their grasp, and amid the loud shouts of the British, they retreated in firm and good order to their former position, and the battle was over. The French had failed in their attack, and nothing more—and this was the great victory of Talavera, about which so much has been said. Two thousand men had been killed on both sides, and about eight thousand wounded and the ground was strewed with human bodies. Then followed a scene at which the heart turns faint. The battle was hardly over when the long dry grass took fire, and one broad flame swept furiously over the field, wrapping the dead and the wounded in its fiery mantle. The shrieks of the scorched and writhing victims, that struggled up through the thick folds of smoke that rolled darkly over them, were far more appalling than the uproar of battle, and filled both armies with consternation.
    A short time after, the army effected a junction with Soult, and Sir Arthur Wellesley was compelled to retreat. Victor erred, but if he had been successful, as he might have been had the commander-in-chief been a different man, he would have received praise rather than blame from the battle of Talavera.
    The retreat of the English, and his re-occupation of Talavera, gave an opportunity for Victor to show the kindness and generosity of his character. When he entered the town, he found the public square covered with the sick and maimed of both armies scattered around on the pavement, without any one to care for them. He immediately sent his soldiers into the houses, commanding the inhabitants to receive the wounded sufferers. He spoke kindly to the English, and ordered that one English and one French soldier should be lodged together—the English always to be served first—thus not only softening the asperities of war, but furnishing an example to his foes, that they might, but never did, follow.
    Marching on to Cadiz, he set down before the town in a regular siege, and would soon have reduced it, but for tho reinforcements the English were able from time to time to throw into it. While his forces yet encircled the place, and the works were still progressing, he was called by Bonaparte to command a corps of the grand army in the invasion of Russia.
    He conducted himself nobly, and won new laurels in this campaign, and in the retreat from Moscow saved the army at the

TERRIBLE PASSAGE Of THE BERESINA.

    As the broken remnants of that once magnificent army—now a cloud of despairing fugitives—approached this river, in their retreat to Wilna, Napoleon sent Oudinot forward to defend the only bridge by which the army could pass. Supposing his orders had been fulfilled, he continued to advance, when the astounding news was brought him that this marshal had been driven back across the river, and the bridge destroyed. Napoleon's fate now seemed brought to a crisis. A river twenty rods wide and six feet deep was before him, while a victorious enemy stood on the farther bank with a powerful artillery to contest the passage. Another immense host was also thundering in the rear, and the knell of the grand army seemed slowly tolling amid the gloom of a Russian winter. At night, as Napoleon lay  on his troubled couch, he was heard speaking of the dreadful alternatives before him, and began already to contemplate the disaster of a surrender; but when morning broke, his stern soul again summoned its energies to the danger that threatened him. First he ordered the reports of his ministers to be burnt, then the eagles of the separate corps, then the useless carriages and wagons, while all the remaining mounted officers, to the number of five hundred, were formed into a sacred squadron, and closed firmly around their chief. This being done, before daylight next morning he, with his tattered, dying army, plunged into the gloomy forest of Minsk, whose sullen echoes were already alive with the thunder of Russian cannon. In the midst of a northern winter, through this desolate and untrodden wilderness, he pressed on till at length he reached Victor's army.
    This marshal had been stationed at Smolensko, while Napoleon marched to Moscow, and afterward sent forward to secure the retreat, so that he had seen neither the Emperor nor the army since they moved away from him, in all the pride and pomp of war, toward the Russian capital. And now, as the Emperor appeared, the way was cleared for him to pass by, and Victor's corps received him with the old shout of "Vive l'Empereur," which had long since been forgotten in the Russian solitudes. This brave marshal expected to see once more that magnificent host in all its ancient strength and proud array; but what was his consternation and dismay, when he beheld before him a motley and miserable crowd of wretches, without uniform, wrapped in female garments, old blankets and pieces of carpet, burnt and torn into tatters; while officers, with no troops to command, were marching on foot in their midst. Instead of shoes, this savage-looking horde had their feet wrapped in rags to protect them from the cold, and lean, unshaven, unwashed, haggard, famine-struck, and spiritless, with their eyes bent on the earth, they staggered by, the wreck of the Grand Army. Victor could not believe his eyes, and his soldiers were filled with astonishment and gloomy forebodings, and lost all heart. Oudinot was joined to Victor, and the eyes of the two chiefs were filled with tears as they asked where was the corps d'armée. The fugitives pointed to those five hundred horsemen, all that was left of the brave cuirassiers of the Emperor. The pine-trees rocked and roared above them in the fierce blast, and an unutterable sadness took the place of hope, as the two commanders turned away to fulfil their respective orders.
    On the 25th of November this ghost of an army approached the Beresina; but, lo! what a sight met the anxious eye of the Emperor. An army of 33,000 men darkened the opposite banks, with thirty pieces of artillery pointing on the broken parapets of the destroyed bridge; while the sullen, angry river, loaded with floating ice, went rushing by, and 40,000 victorious Russians were pressing fiercely in rear. But amid these disasters, Napoleon moved with the same calm and marble-like brow and the same unconquerable spirit as ever. Murat advised him to fly and save himself, but he scorned the proposal, resolved to stand or fall with his army. He immediately ordered two bridges to be built, while he made a demonstration lower down the river, as if he designed to effect a passage there. The task seemed hopeless, for the enemy's cannon could destroy faster than the engineers could build. The sappers, nevertheless, plunged boldly into the stream, and, up to their arms in the cold water, began to lay the foundations of the first bridge. All night long the blows of the hammer echoed along the banks of the stream, and the workmen toiled by the light of the bivouac fires of the enemy that lined the opposite shore; and as daylight dawned, the troops stood to their arms to wait the fire of the Russians; when lo! to their astonishment, they were in full retreat. A gleam of joy shot over Napoleon's countenance at this unexpected good fortune. One well-directed cannon-shot would have crushed the labors of the whole night; but fate had decreed it otherwise. Napoleon immediately pointed to the opposite bank as the prize of the bravest. A French aide-de-camp and a Lithuanian count spurred into the stream, and plunging amid the cakes of ice that cut the chests and flanks of their horses, at length, dripping and chilled, mounted the farther shore. Forty or fifty horsemen, each carrying a soldier behind him, followed after, while two small rafts, each carrying ten soldiers, were pushed across, and at one o'clock four hundred men stood on the opposite bank. One bridge was soon completed. Oudinot's division began their march, and, with the joyful shout of Vive l'Empereur, streamed triumphantly across. When the excited and anxious Emperor saw these brave troops at length in battle array on the farther shore, he exclaimed in transport, "Behold my star again appear!"  The other bridge for the artillery was also finished by four o'clock, and the cannon crowded rapidly across. Oudinot, with his corps, now protected the passage from the enemy on the farther side, but 40,000 Russians, under Wettgenstein, were pressing in the rear to force the disordered mass into the Beresina. Victor, with his 6,000 men, was ordered to hold this imposing array in check, while the wreck of the Grand Army passed over.
    Then commenced a scene unparalleled in the history of war. The days and nights of the 26th, 27th, and 28th of November were days and nights of excitement, of woe, and terror, and carnage, from which the heart turns away overwhelmed and bleeding. Bonaparte, after trampling down the living to clear a passage, had reached the opposite bank with the relics of the Old and Young Guard, forming a reserve to Oudinot and Ney, who were to keep in check the Russian army of 27,000 men, that were now bearing down on the bridges; while, on the other side, the brave Victor was to cover with his 6,000 veterans, the disordered army of 40,000 that was hurrying across the river. Imagine the spectacle that now presented itself. Here was a broad and swollen current filled with floating ice, spanned by two frail and narrow bridges, around the entrance to which 40,000 worn, haggard, and despairing wretches were crowding in one dense and confused mass. Before them, whither they were hastening, the thunder of cannon was shaking the banks of the stream as the foe pressed up to their last remaining hope. Behind them was an army of 40,000 men closing steadily upon their retreat, kept back only by a curtain of 6,000 enfeebled soldiers, which the stern Victor was holding in the very jaws of death. It was a wintry day, and the bridges creaked and groaned under the descending ice, as the mighty throng commenced their march. All that day (the 26th), and all night, the hurrying thousands streamed across, except when now and then when the timbers gave way, and the multitude surged back till the gap was closed up.
    But the next morning, as daylight dawned over the wintry scene, the stragglers that had been wandering hither and thither through the forest came hurrying by thousands towards the bridges, the entrances to which were now completely choked by the throng. Confusion and terror bore down all discipline, and the low, buzzing sound of excited and struggling men, mingled now and then with piercing shrieks, as some poor wretch fell under the remorseless feet of his companions, filled all the air. The strong crowded off the weak, and women and children and soldiers were seen dropping by scores into the stream.
    But that night the tumult on the bridges ceased, and, seized by one of those strange impulses that nothing can resist, the whole multitude deserted the passage and began to pull the little village of Studzianki to pieces, in which they had been encamped, and with the fragments make bivouacs to shelter them from the piercing cold. But in the morning, as they heard the thunder of the Russian cannon on Victor's army, alarm took the place of indifference, and the entire mass again pushed in one confused torrent over the bridges. This last day was the most fearful of all; and, as if the woe, and terror, and despair, and suffering were not already great enough, a furious snow-storm set in, and the cold, driving north wind shrieked and howled through the pine-trees as if the infernal regions had been emptied to complete the horrors of the scene. While the terrified crowd in advance blocked the passage in their alarm and haste, those from behind kept pushing forward, rolling the helpless mass into the stream, and trampling over the fallen with reckless indifference.
    In the meantime Victor hung like a protecting angel around them, furnishing a striking and touching contrast to the dreadful struggle on the shore. Putting his little army between them and the foe, he took the cannon balls destined for them into his own steady ranks, and bearing bravely up with his veterans against those 40,000 unwearied troops, stood, the only hope of the army. Forgetful of himself—of the narrow plank that lay between him and safety—thinking only of the helpless sufferers crowding the banks of the river, he fought with the energy of despair—now steadily hurling back the overwhelming columns of the foe, and now pouring his exhausted troops on the advancing batteries. Forced slowly back towards the river, he disputed every inch of ground as if it were his last hope, and though he knew his retreating comrades were placing the Beresina between them and the enemy, be resolved to perish where he stood or save the army. His was a glorious, though perilous task, and right nobly did he fulfill it.
    But it was not in the power of man to wholly check the advance of such superior force, and he fell gradually back, and the Russian batteries, in one huge semi-circle, advanced till they commanded the bridges. As the first shots fell among the multitude, terror and despair reached their extremest limit. All order and all restraint were lost, and every passion of our nature burst forth in its fury and strength. Rage, terror, cruelty, love, pity, and generosity were mingled, like heaven and hell, together. The strong and furious, with sword in hand, mowed a path for themselves through the living mass; the selfish drove their carriages over the feeble and helpless, heedless alike of the prayers of the pleading or the groans and curses of the dying, as their bones crushed under their wheels. Horses reared and plunged amid the chaos, trampling down men, women, and children under their iron hoofs as their riders spurred furiously on; while, to crown all, at this terrible moment the artillery bridge gave way, and the crowd upon it fell with a shriek into the stream. Those behind, ignorant of the disaster, kept pushing onward those before, and for a long time the dropping of a head of the column over the edge of the chasm formed a living cataract of men. When at length it was abandoned, and the artillery and baggage-wagons came rolling over the frozen ground toward the remaining bridge below, the scene became, if possible, more terrific. Under their ponderous wheels the close-packed ranks were crushed like grass, and they went trundling steadily on over the pavement of bodies they made for themselves, while the living multitude, trampling on the dying multitude, smothered the stifling groans ere they were half uttered. Those who fell seized the heels and feet of those who trampled on them, with their teeth, in despair. Mothers and wives were seen tossing their arms frantically about, calling in vain on their children and husbands, and the next moment fell under the carriage-wheels, or were pushed into the river. Some, as they disappeared in the icy stream, were seen holding their infants in their upstretched and stiffened arms, after they themselves had been swept under by the strong current. Oh, it was a sight to freeze the heart! On a narrow bridge struggled a frighted multitude, trampling down and pushing each other off, in the effort for life; and under them swept a cold river, and on either side, thundered the cannon of the enemy, the balls and shells crashing and exploding in their midst; while, as if to drown the shrieks, and cries, and groans and supplications that loaded the air, a furious tempest raved by, sifting the snow in one vast winding sheet over them. The heavens were blotted out—the clouds themselves were invisible, and the snow, whirled aloft, and borne in fierce eddies onward, gave ten-fold power to the freezing cold that already benumbed and palsied their limbs.
    But amid these exhibitions of cruelty and selfishness, there were also examples of heroism and generosity that ennoble our nature. While hundreds were destroying life to save their own, others were risking theirs to protect the helpless and wretched. Soldiers, and even officers, were seen harnessing themselves to sledges, to drag over their wounded comrades,—one artilleryman, seeing a mother and her two children carried by the current under the ice, leaped from the bridge on which he was struggling for life, and snatching the youngest, a mere infant, bore it in safety to the shore, and was heard stilling its cries with words of tenderness. Soldiers took infants from the breasts of their dying mothers, and amidst that fierce hurricane, and storm of cannon-balls, and struggle, and terror, adopted them as their own, with solemn oaths, and carried them in their stiffened arms through the danger. Along the bank, others were seen standing around their wounded officers, who had been borne back from Victor's army, and amid the driving snow and frost watched their receding life; and, though urged again and again to save themselves, nobly preferred to perish beside their dying commanders.
    While this scene was passing on the bridge, Victor was sternly battling back the Russian army, and saw his ranks dissolve around him without one thought of retreating. All that dreadful day he held his troops to the fire that wasted them: but at length the night, dark and tempestuous, came on. The disordered masses were still crowding rapidly over, and though the falling snow darkened all the atmosphere, yet the black line of the dense column contrasted with the icy current below sufficiently to render it a mark for the Russian guns, which kept playing through the storm with frightful effect. Bivouac-fires were kindled on the opposite shore, but they shone dim and obscure through the thick tempest, while those cannon kept thundering on in the gloom. That single bridge groaned under the burden it bore; and the muffled tread of the multitude—the heavy rumbling of artillery and carriages over the planks—the confused words of command, and all the tumult of a terrified and maddened throng rushing from danger and death, were born back to Victor's ear, as he stood amid the storm and darkness, and listened. He knew that the fate of his army rested on a single plank, and he knew also that the heavy mass might crush that any moment in twain, as they had done the upper bridge;—still he would not stir.
    But at length, when nearly all were over, and he must save his army if ever, and there was time for those behind to cross after if they would, he gave the orders to retreat. Over the snow-covered ground, the distracted multitude heard the measured tread of his advance columns, and crowded still more frantically forward. Refusing to open a passage for him, he trampled them underfoot. The tenderness of sympathy had given place to the sternness of duty, and Victor cleared a terrible path for himself through the mass, and, treading those down he had been so nobly protecting, poured his tired columns over the bridge. He used every exertion to make the remaining stragglers follow in the rear of his army, but, held by some strange infatuation, some thousands still clung to the fatal shore. He even set fire to their baggage to compel them to leave. It was all in vain, and not until he, towards daylight, ordered the bridge to be fired, did they faintly arouse. But it was then too late, the fierce flame wrapped everything, and though some in their despair rushed over the burning timbers, they only precipitated their death. Others threw themselves on cakes of ice and endeavored to float across, while the remainder, stiffened with cold, and covered with snow, wandered up and down the shore in despairing groups, or sat down on the cold ground, and with their elbows on their knees gazed vacantly on the opposite shore.
    The bridges were consumed and sunk in the river, and at ten o'clock the Russian army lined the shores where Victor had so bravely covered the retreat. When the ice and snow melted away in the spring, twelve thousand dead bodies were strewed along the banks of the Beresina, where this fearful passage had been made.
    Victor continued to struggle manfully the remainder of this disastrous retreat, and was one of Napoleon's chief reliances in the succeeding efforts he made to save his empire. At Leipsic, Wochau, and Dresden, he maintained his high reputation, and finally, on the soil of France, side by side with his Emperor, strained every nerve to save Paris.
    At length, being sent forward to Montereau to take possession of the bridges of the town, his soldiers were compelled to fight their way, so that when they arrived at the place they were too weary to make an attack, and a large portion of the enemy escaped. This so exasperated Napoleon, that he disgraced him on the spot. Putting forth superhuman exertions himself, and feeling that ordinary efforts would ruin his hopes, he deprived Victor of his command, for refusing to do, what, in ordinary circumstances, would be considered impracticable. The latter, who had fought bravely, and in endeavoring to carry out his Emperor's commands, had seen his son-in-law fall before his eyes, felt the injustice of the act, and hastened to remonstrate with him. The Emperor would not listen to his complaints until the disgraced marshal turning away said, "Well, I will shoulder a musket then. Victor has not forgotten his old occupation. I will take my place in the Guard." This noble devotion disarmed Napoleon, who was unjust, because be was balancing on the edge of irretrievable ruin, and could not look with complaisance on any one, who by failing to fulfill his orders, had added to his danger. "Well, Victor," said he, reaching out his hand, "remain with us. I cannot restore you to your corps, which I have given to Gerard, but I give you two brigades of my Guard. Go, take the command, and let us be friends."
    The marshal continued to fight bravely, and at the terrible battle of Craon he led his column again and again into the very mouth of a most murderous battery; and after performing prodigies of valor, and seeing his men cut down like corn before the reaper, was at length struck by a cannon-shot in the thigh, and, dreadfully lacerated, borne from the field.
    When the Bourbons re-ascended the throne, he was appointed over the second military division. On Napoleon's return from Elba he did all he could to retain the fidelity of his troops, but finding his efforts of no avail followed the King. At the second restoration he was made peer of France, and major-general of the royal household. n 1821 he was made minister of war, and on resigning his office two years after, was appointed ambassador to the Court of Vienna, though be never proceeded on his mission. In 1830 he gave in his adhesion to Louis Philippe. He died in 1841.


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