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J. T. Headley was born at the very end of the convulsive period of the French revolution and Napoleonic Wars that followed, and wrote a number of volumes on the French army and its leadership of the period. This volume is a short and pithy, none the less entertaining, account of the structure, growth and battles of the famed Garde Impériale of Napoleon.
Starting with the formation of the Guard from the early days in its form as the Consular Guard and their baptism of fire at Marengo. In the words of Napoleon – It was Granite Column:
(Words of the First Consul in his report on the battle of Marengo to the government, 27 Prairial year VII.)
Headley charts the growth of a corps of a few thousand men to an army within an army from 1812 onward until their final heroic stand at Waterloo to their disbandment by the Bourbon monarchy. Leaders such as Bessières and Drouot are picked out in detail, and famous events are described with panache.
The volume leans heavily on Emile Marco St-Hilaire’s Histoire anecdotique, politique et militaire de la Garde impériale Paris, Penaud, 1845-47, but is none the worst for it.
A jaunty read.
Author - Joel Tyler Headley (30/12/1813 – 30/12/1897)