Napoleon in his carriage after the battle. Painting by John Chapman
Napoleon's wartime headquarters was built of four autonomous teams, organized so that the emperor could easily move from place to place and work freely in the field, regardless of the circumstances.
The first team, the so-called "light duty", had 60 mules or pack horses. This service was supposed to provide freedom of movement on rough terrain and off-road. Mules, especially useful in the mountains, transported 4 light tents, 2 small field beds, 6 sets of cutlery and Napoleon's desk. Another 17 horses were intended for servants: a wagenmeister, a service manager, 3 chamberlains, 2 valets, 4 footmen, 3 cooks and 4 horse breeders. In addition, 2 more light carriages of 6 horses each were provided for transporting any property. Sometimes light duty was divided into two convoys in order to set up two camps for the emperor in two different places on the vast battlefield so that he could, having moved from one flank to the other, immediately begin work.
The second team was called "expeditionary service" and was engaged in the transportation of all the property of the imperial camp. She provided Napoleon with relative comfort for living and working if he stayed in the same area for several days. The service possessed 26 carts and 160 horses, which were distributed as follows: a light carriage for the personal use of the emperor, which allowed him to travel long distances, 3 similar carriages for Headquarters officers, a cart with Headquarters furnishings and stationery, and 2 carts with furnishings bedrooms. There was also a wagon for servants, 6 wagons for provisions, 5 wagons with tents, a medical van, a wagon with documents, a spare wagon, a field forge, and 2 wagons with Napoleon's personal belongings.
The third team was called the "big carriage" and consisted of 24 heavy carts and 240 horses. It followed the Great Army much more slowly than the previous two and made it possible to expand the imperial camp in case Napoleon lingered in some place for longer than a few days, usually for weeks. Bonaparte used the services of this command in the Bois de Boulogne and on the island of Lobau in the 1809 campaign, and in addition, he used this command extremely rarely. The convoy of the "big crew" included the famous carriage of Napoleon, built to a special order so that the emperor could comfortably live and work in it together with his secretary on long journeys. The carriage became a trophy for the Prussians in the evening after the Battle of Waterloo. In addition to her, the train contained other carriages for officers and carts for secretaries, a spare carriage, carts with maps, documents, stationery and wardrobe, 8 carts with provisions and tableware, two carts with servants' things, a field smithy and auxiliary carts.
Finally, the fourth team consists of riding horses, divided into two "brigades" of 13 horses each. Two of them were intended for Napoleon and one each for the great stable, small stable, page, surgeon, picker, Mameluke, three horse breeders and a guide from the local population. Napoleon personally conducted horse reconnaissance before the battle and reviews of the troops located near his Headquarters.
The tasks of the Stavka personnel in the field were clearly defined and rigorously carried out under the supervision of the officers on duty. The attendants did not leave anything to chance, since any mistake could be fraught with disastrous consequences.
Each of Napoleon's riding horses had two pistols, which Mameluk Rustam Raza personally loaded every morning in the presence of the great stable. Every evening he unloaded both pistols in order to load them in the morning with fresh gunpowder and new bullets. In wet weather, the charges were changed more often, several times a day. Rustam always carried with him, on a wide belt, a flask of vodka, and when saddled he always carried a roll with an imperial cloak - the legendary coat - and a frock coat. Thus, Napoleon could quickly change clothes in case he got wet in heavy rain.
It was the page's duty to carry the imperial telescope with him at all times - of course, keeping it in perfect condition. In his saddlebags he always had a set of imperial shawls and gloves, as well as a handy supply of paper, wax, ink, pens and pencils, and a compass.
Picker carried with him a supply of food and another flask of vodka. Napoleon's personal surgeon carried a personal medical bag with a set of surgical instruments, and the footmen carried lint (used as a dressing before gauze was invented), salt and ether for disinfecting wounds, vodka, a bottle of Madeira and spare surgical instruments. The emperor himself needed surgical treatment only once: when he was wounded during the siege of Regensburg, but the surgeon also provided assistance to officers of Napoleon's retinue, who often died or received wounds in the presence of the emperor, as happened, for example, with Gerard Duroc or General François Joseph Kirgener.
In the full version, Napoleon's headquarters consisted of Napoleon's apartments, apartments for "great officers", that is, marshals and generals, apartments for imperial adjutants, apartments for officers on duty, apartments for messenger officers, guards, quartermasters and servants. The imperial apartments were a complex of tents, in which the first and second salons, an office and a bedroom were arranged. They all had to fit in one cart. The distribution of tents on two carts threatened with the loss or delay of one of the units in the military turmoil.
The Last Headquarters of Napoleon. Painting by Patrice Courcelles at the Museum of the Battle of Waterloo
The imperial apartments were located in a rectangle of 200 by 400 meters, surrounded by a chain of guards and pickets. It was possible to enter the apartments through one of the two opposite "gates". The apartments were in charge of the chamberlain (“the grand marshal of the court”). At night, the apartments were lit by bonfires and lanterns. Lanterns were installed in front of the emperor's tents. One of the fires always kept hot food for Napoleon and his retinue so that they could eat at any time of the day or night. The apartments of Napoleon's chief of staff, Marshal Louis Alexander Berthier, were located 300 meters from the emperor's apartments.
To guard the Headquarters, a guard battalion was allocated from another regiment every day. He carried out a guard and escort service. In addition to him, to protect Napoleon personally, there was a horse picket in the platoon force and a full escort squadron. The escort, as a rule, stood out from the horse rangers of the imperial guard or the lancers' regiments, in which the Poles and the Dutch served. The soldiers of the guard battalion were required to keep their guns constantly loaded. The cavalrymen were required to keep their horses under the saddle, and pistols and carbines - ready to fire. Their horses were always next to the imperial horses. The escort squadron also had to constantly keep the horses in readiness, but at night its soldiers were allowed to remove the bridles from the horses. The bridles were removed an hour before sunrise and put on an hour after sunset.
During the day, the emperor was constantly accompanied by two adjutants in the rank of generals and half of the messenger officers and pages. At night, only one adjutant was awake, who was on duty in the second cabin. He had to be ready at any time to bring maps, writing utensils, a compass and other items necessary for staff work to the emperor. All of this was under the tutelage of the most senior of the lower ranks of the picket.
In the first saloon half of the messenger officers and pages were on duty at night along with the commander of the picket. The picket soldiers, except for one, were allowed to dismount. An adjutant in the rank of general had a list of all those on duty. In the service, all officers were required to keep horses under the saddle, which were also with Napoleon's horses, so that the officers could immediately accompany the emperor. The small stable was responsible for the needs of the surgeon, Mameluk Rustam, pages and a picket. He was also responsible for finding guides from local residents. As a rule, such guides were simply grabbed on the high road by the soldiers of the escort squadron, and they also made sure that the guide did not run away.
If Napoleon rode out in a carriage or carriage, a horse escort was assigned to him in the strength of a platoon. The same escort was attached to a cart with maps and documents. All carts were supposed to have a loaded firearm weaponso that personnel can defend themselves in the event of a surprise attack.
On the battlefield or during the review of the troops, Napoleon was accompanied by only one adjutant general, one of the senior staff officers, a chamberlain, two messenger officers, two staff adjutants and a guard. The rest of Napoleon's retinue and escort kept behind, at a distance of 400 meters to the right of the emperor and in front of the "brigade" of imperial horses. The rest of the staff adjutants and staff of Berthier's headquarters made up the third group, which moved 400 m to the left of Napoleon. Finally, various assistants to the emperor and the chief of staff, under the command of the general, kept behind Napoleon, at a distance of 1200 meters. The place of the escort was determined by the circumstances. On the battlefield, communication between the emperor and the other three groups was maintained through a messenger officer.
Napoleon's soldiers developed a special attitude towards their leader, marked not just by respect, but by adoration and devotion. It took shape shortly after the victorious Italian campaign of 1796, when old, mustachioed veterans christened Bonaparte with the comic nickname "Little Corporal". In the evening after the Battle of Montenotte, Sergeant Grenadier Leon Ahn of the 32nd Line Semi-Brigade proclaimed on behalf of the troops:
"Citizen Bonaparte, you love fame - we will give it to you!"
For more than twenty years, from the siege of Toulon to the defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon was close to the soldiers. He grew up from an army environment, knew the craft of war, shared danger, cold, hunger and hardship with soldiers. During the siege of Toulon, grabbing, so as not to interrupt the fire, a cannon from the hands of a murdered artilleryman, he caught scabies - a disease with which every second soldier of his army was sick. At Arcole, the sapper Dominique Mariolle raised Bonaparte to his feet, overturned in the Ariole stream by a wounded horse. Near Regensburg, he was wounded in the foot. Under Essling, he so neglected his own safety and approached enemy positions so much that the soldiers refused to continue fighting unless he retired to a safe distance. And in this act of desperate entreaty, the soldiers' affection for their emperor was expressed.
Under Lützen, Napoleon personally led the unharmed youths of the Young Guard into battle, and under Arsy-sur-Aube, he deliberately drove up to the place where the grenade fell, which, however, did not explode, to show the soldiers that “the devil is not so terrible as he is painted ". Under Lodi and Montreux, he directed the guns himself, which should not be surprising - he himself was a professional artilleryman. That is, no one in the Grand Army could have even a shadow of doubt about Napoleon's personal courage and the fact that even in the most difficult moments of the battle he knew how to maintain incredible calm. In addition to undeniable military leadership talents, it was this courage and this composure, as well as the understanding of the mentality of an ordinary soldier, that attracted thousands of people to him and forced them to be loyal to him to the end. Without that spiritual connection between the army and its supreme commander historical victories of French arms would not have been possible in principle.
Napoleon attached great importance to this connection. To maintain it, he did not neglect any occasions, primarily parades and shows. In addition to the entertainment component, the parades provided a good opportunity to strengthen the belief that he personally cares for each soldier and can punish negligent officers. The examinations, at which the emperor was personally present, became difficult examinations for commanders and officers. Napoleon carefully walked around line by line, examined the soldiers, noticed flaws in their uniforms and equipment. At the same time, he asked about the conditions of life in the barracks, the quality of food, the timely payment of salaries, and if it turned out that there were drawbacks, especially through the fault of negligence, negligence or, worse, the corruption of the commanders, then woe to such generals or officers. Moreover, Napoleon conducted his inquiries scrupulously and competently. Repeatedly he asked about such details that might seem unimportant or ridiculous, for example, about the age of the horses in the squadron. In fact, he could quickly assess the combat effectiveness of the units and the degree of awareness of the officers.
Parades and shows also became convenient occasions to publicly express their satisfaction. If the regiment looked bravo, if no obvious shortcomings were noticed, Napoleon did not skimp on praise and awards. Occasionally he would hand out several Crosses of the Legion of Honor, or instruct commanders to draw up lists of the most honored for promotion. For the soldiers, it was a convenient opportunity to beg for a reward if they thought they deserved the "cross", but for one reason or another did not receive it. The soldiers firmly believed that they themselves had come up with such a "cunning plan" to reach the emperor himself through the heads of their commanders, who, out of harm or for other reasons, delayed the awards and promotions of their subordinates.
But despite such closeness to his soldiers, despite the fact that he shared with them all the hardships of military campaigns, Napoleon demanded that truly court etiquette reigned in his Headquarters. Not a single marshal or general, not to mention the lower ranks, had the right to refer to him by name. It seems that this was only allowed to Marshal Lann, and even then only in an informal setting. But even those who knew him from the military school in Brienne or from the siege of Toulon, such as Junot or a particularly close Duroc, could not hope for such familiarity. Napoleon sat at the same table with Buckle d'Albe, but no one had the right to be present with him without taking off his headdress. It was impossible to imagine that the officers of the Headquarters did not monitor their appearance or appear unshaven before the emperor.
In military campaigns, Napoleon did not spare himself and demanded the same from the officers of the Headquarters. Maximum effort and dedication was required of them; everyone had to be constantly ready to serve and be content with the conditions of life that were available at the moment. Any dissatisfaction, whining or complaints about hunger, cold, quality of apartments or lack of entertainment could end badly for such officers. It happened, of course, that the Headquarters plunged into luxury and the officers ate their fill, drank and walked, but much more often they had to be content with coarse food and an unpretentious bed in the hay, on a wooden bench, or even on the ground in the open air. During the Saxon campaign of 1813, Count Louis-Marie-Jacques-Almaric de Narbonne-Lara, a former courtier of Louis XVI and a trusted diplomat of Napoleon, a man so scrupulous in matters of etiquette of the XNUMXth century that every morning he began the day by powdering his wig, resignedly slept on two piled up chairs in an office full of adjutants constantly scurrying around.
Napoleon himself more than once set an example for his subordinates and slept in the open air with his officers, although the retinue always tried to provide him with more comfortable conditions of rest before battles. But he attached great importance to daily baths, which really had a beneficial effect on his well-being. Therefore, the duties of the servants from Headquarters were at all costs to get hot water and fill it with a portable copper bath. Napoleon was content with three or four hours of sleep. He went to bed early, before midnight, in order to start dictating orders with a fresh mind in the morning. Then he read reports from the previous day, which allowed him to soberly assess the situation.
M. Doher. Napoleon en campagne. Le quartier impérial au soir d une bataille... Souvenir Napoleonien, (278), November 1974.
JT Headley. The Imperial Guard of Napoleon: From Marengo to Waterloo... C. Scribner, 1851.
M. Dupont. Napoleon et ses grognards... Lavauzelle, 1981.
M. Chory. Les grognards et Napoleon... Librairie académique Perrin, 1968.
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