I SENT forward messengers
to inform the commandant of Sant'-Angelo of all that had happened in the
sixteen da)s that had elapsed since we quitted Rome, and of our approach
; we intended to return the following day. I told him to assist us by
means of sorties, and to try to seize the King of Naples, who was there,
and anyone else that he could lay hands upon; but, unfortunately, be was
lulled to security, and asleep. The investment had been raised, and he
received intelligence of the misunderstandings in the town by means of
our partisans. He was besides overjoyed at having held his own, and,
until our arrival, it was absolutely hopeless to arouse him from his
sense of safety, and thereby he missed making several important
captures. 0 justify himself, he told inc that he was afraid that a trap
was being laid for him, that he had suspected my spies of serving the.
enemy, although there was no mistaking the signs agreed upon between us,
especially when my cannon was drawing near and becoming perfectly
audible. But such is the pusillanimity of some men; everything frightens
and terrifies them when they are not actually kept in leading-strings!
hearing that Rome was evacuated, had preceded me; I was to join him at
Ponte Molle. He informed me that a column of the enemy, which had come
up too late to cross the town and follow General Mack, who had retired
to Albano, had stopped at sight of some of our scouts, and that Bonnami,
his chief of the staff, having parleyed with them, had granted them
three hours to decide whether to lay down their arms.
An excellent plan,' I
replied; 'nothing could be better devised for the purpose of enabling
them to escape by the Presides.
Our junction with General
Kellermann had been meanwhile effected. He, as I have already said,
followed, without overtaking, the troop since his departure from
Borghetto for Civita-Castellana, because he had taken the old road to
Rome, while the others marched in a parallel line with him by Monterosi,
Bucano, La Storta, and had taken up a position masked by considerable
General Monnami came to
us, and said with emphasis We have got this troop within an hour they
will have laid down their arms.'
No doubt,' I replied, 'if
they are still there. But do you suppose that a troop with free
communication behind it, and commanded by an em gre, Comte Roger de
l)amas, will have the kindness to come and yield to us?'
Why not?' he retorted. 'I
told them they should have no quarter if they did not. And their
vedettes are still there.'
'What proof is that? Of
course they are there to conceal the movements; they will remain there
as long as they are left; besides, to carry out your threat, they should
be surrounded, and their rear is quite open!'
had listened in silence to this conversation, but at last, stung by my
remarks, he said
'Well, let us go and see
what has really happened.'
We went, and found
exactly what was to be expected, not a creature! Then we had to follow;
but the small number of our troops in front were resting, or dispersed,
believing that an armistice had been concluded, and mine had halted
behind, so that it took us some time to collect a small force of
cavalry. At about the distance of a league they came upon a very
well-posted rear-guard; a brush took place, but with no result, and, as
night was coming on, we recalled the detachment.
I asked for orders, and
was told to guard the Ponte Molle and the town I remarked that the
important point was the road to Naples, but was told that it would be
attended to. Nevertheless, I sent a regiment to the Lateran Gate,
another in reserve to the Coliseum, and the Piazza di Venezia. Thus
supported, I went to see the Torlonias and get some news, as the
commandant of Sant'-Angelo knew nothing, and I re-entered my former
dwelling, which I had quitted seventeen days previously. I had kept my
promise within two days!
About e!even o'clock the
same night, I received news from the Lateran Gate and from General
Championnet that a body of the enemy was advancing on that side: the
General himself, in great anxiety, rode up with his staff.
'Make yourself easy,' I
said; 'I have seen to everything; my reserves are now marching towards
that point. I know the way; let us go.'
But it was unnecessary.
On reaching the gate we found that the regiment I had placed there, the
11th, if I recollect rightly, had sufficed to repulse the assailants to
the number of 5,000 or 6,000 men, as I learned from some prisoners, led
by General Mack in person. This was nearly all that remained to him of
the formidable army which had so boastfully declared that in a very
short time it would drive us out of Italy. General Mack did not think
that we were again occupying Rome, or else he hoped to surprise us, and
enable Comte de Damas to get through. This expedition having failed, the
General, no longer hoping to effect a junction, gained the road to Capua,
and we returned to Rome.
I was just about to get
into bed, when a partemen faire was brought to me, asking leave for
another column to pas. through the town on its way from Viterho to Ponte
'Are you in earnest in
making such a request?' I asked.
'Certainly; they tell me
a truce has been proclaimed.'
'You have been
misinformed; lay down your arms, that is the best thing you can do.'
What! lay down our arms ?
We will defend ourselves. We are in force.'
'Very good,' I said;
then, turning to the officer who had introduced this man, I continued:
'Take him back, and give orders from me to the commandant of Ponte Molle
to put all these gentlemen to the sword; I am going to bed.'
'Is that your final
decision?' asked the messenger. 'Yes, it is.'
'In that case I will
I discovered that he was
the chief of the band of from 1,200 to 1,500 men, which had been
skirmishing about my right flank while we were at Civita-Castellana, and
had given us a considerable amount of trouble. Next morning I sent a
report of what had occurred to the Commander-in-chief, adding that. I
had not cared to disturb his slumbers for so small a matter.
A general order emanating
from headquarters announced all these happy resuIts, to our great
surprise, my division was hardly mentioned, although the army did us
justice and gave us the honours of this short campaign ; but what will
scarcely obtain belief is that the staff received all the promotions and
rewards. This injustice and partiality made me as angry as the rest of
the army. I went straight to the General, and a second and very sharp
altercation followed, but without producing any favourable result for my
division, and, as if to punish it for the advantages it had secured, it
was ordered to march at the rear of the column. We had to swallow this
insult; but a few days later, as we met some rear-guards, they sent us
forward to the front again.
We thus arrived at the
intrenched camp at Capua, where we received overtures for a suspension
of hostilities which tempted the Commander-in-chief. 1, however, opposed
them strongly at the meeting that was called of all the
Generals-of-Division. Nothing was settled that day, but on the following
a delay of forty-eight hours was granted in my absence. I was furious;
but I had to submit, and made all my preparations for a desperate attack
at the expiration of the delay allowed.
The excuse given for this
ill-timed concession was the absence of news of Generals Duhesme and
Lemoine, who were marching upon Naples by the Abruzzi ; but the excuse
was a bad one. The terror of the Neapolitans was increasing, disturbance
was rife in the country, fear in the capital, the court was fleeing to
Sicily ; therefore there should have been no cessation of hostilities.
This state of things might have been taken for granted even had it not
been officially known to exist, and there was every reason, nay,
necessity, for advancing to assist our troops in crossing the Abruzzi by
the prompt and decisive occupation of the capital, instead of allowing
time for a reorganization of the remains of the army, for the defence of
Capua and its intrenched camp, and insurrection and rebellion among the
At the conclusion of this
ill-advised armistice I ordered a reconnaissance; General Maurice
Mathieu commanded it, and I followed to support him. All the Neapolitan
outposts gave way, and vanished as fast as their horses could carry
them. They gave the alarm in the camp and town, whence the defenders
began to retire, when General Mack conceived the idea of sending a
messenger with an offer of capitulation. In accordance with an old
custom, the advance-guard stopped the officer and conducted him to
General. Math ieu, who sent him on to me. I, unfortunately, was at some
distance supporting a detachment of our troops, who had met with some
resistance in trying to cross the Volturno. I was furious, and ordered
the attack to be continued. I desired, and should have been able, had it
not been for this circumstance, to force the intrenched camp, cross the
Volturno by the bridge, and seize Capua; but the Neapolitans had had
time to review their position, and to put themselves behind their
intrenchments and ramparts. I was in advance of the reinforcements that
I was bringing up, and arrived just in time to see General Mathieu's arm
broken by a discharge of grape-shot; at the same moment I received an
order from the Commander-in-chief to cease firing, and return to my
position, just as I had hopes of being able to carry the enemy's camp.
I heard next day that
Capua was to be handed over by capitulation, and that an armistice for
an indefinite period had been signed, instead of our rapidly occupying
the capital. I was bitterly disappointed at being thus balked of a
conquest not only easy in itself, and which would have put a crown to
our efforts, but which must have produced a striking moral effect in the
Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, and in Europe, especially in Italy and
Austria. A fresh altercation took place at Capua; as hostilities were at
an end, I asked to be relieved of my command, a request that was granted
with pleasure and alacrity, and I wrote to the War Minister and to the
Directory, asking to be employed elsewhere. While awaiting an answer, I
stayed at Capua.
Shortly afterwards the
truce was violated, I forget on what pretext. The lazzaroni organized
themselves for the defence of Naples, the troops were disarmed, General
Mack resigned and asked for a passport into Austria, which the
Commander-in-chief granted. The French Government, however, on being
informed of this refused its consent, caused Mack to be arrested at
Ancona, contrary to the law of nations, and taken as a prisoner of war
to Paris. On passing through Capua the General paid me a visit; it was
live o'clock in the morning, and I was in bed. I was soon up, however,
and said to him
'Well, General, a
fortnight ago you would not have caught we napping.'
'Ah he replied; 'you did
for me altogether at Calvi.'
In the cours of
conversation upon past events, he told me that an attempt had been made
to poison him at Capua, and to assassinate him at Naples, he was then
very far from well, and I saw him again the following year, in Paris, in
the same state.
'How,' I asked at our
first interview, 'could a general so distinguished by his talents expose
his military reputation as a great tactician by putting himself at the
head of such an army?'
'I was urged, entreated
by the King of Naples,' he replied; 'I resisted, but my Sovereign
commanded me. I was compelled to submit; and on seeing the army, well
drilled, well organized, well equipped, displaying such devotion, and,
above all, such determination to make war upon you and to liberate Rome
and Italy, I was seduced.'
'Perhaps also,' I added,
laughing, 'the prospect of corning into France and to Paris had
something to do with it.'
'All that army wanted,'
he replied, 'was to have been led by a French general.'
After that compliment he
took leave of me and departed. I recommended him to the special care of
all our cornmandants He passed near GaŽta first, as that fortress was
yielding to our troops, under General Rey, although it had only been
threatened with shells.
After the violation of
the armistice, as I have said, the army marched upon Naples; the
lazzaroni made some resistance, but the city was eventually occupied.
Being so near, I could not hell) visiting it. I spent a week there, and
learned what abominable exactions were being levied. I deplored them,
and left for Rome, where I awaited my next instructions.
One day, on returning
tired from a ride in the neighbourhood, I had allowed myself a siesta,
when I was aroused by the arrival of a courier. I looked at the
despatch, and, to my great surprise, read my nomination as
Commander-in-chief of the Army of Naples in place of General
Championnet. The Directory, dissatisfied with the want of continuity in
the conduct of the campaign, with the armistice at Capua, and with the
extortions that had been committed, had decided to recall and make him
give an account of his conduct. 1 am bound to say that this proceeding
was too severe, that the greater part of the army was innocent of these
iniquities, that they were regretted by everybody; but none had any
confidence in the leader whose weakness was universally deplored, so
that with truth, and without either vanity or conceit, I may say that
great pleasure was manifested in my appointment, especially by those
troops that had served under me while I had had the command in the Roman
States and during the campaign.
I started and passed
General Championnet at Aversa. We neither stopped nor spoke. I knew that
a magnificent reception was being prepared for me at Naples; out of
modesty I avoided it by arriving at eleven o'clock at night, whereas I
was only expected the next morning.
disorganized. Communications between the divisions were interrupted, and
those that occupied Salerno and the places nearest at hand were cut off
even from the capital. I rearranged all the communications, reassembled
a few scattered troops, and restored order in the town. In order to
re-establish confidence and tranquillity, I issued proclamations, backed
up by effectual demonstrations. I organized a new government in concert
with Abrial, the Commissioner sent by the Directory, a very good and
worthy man, afterwards count and peer of France.
I next turned my
attention to military matters. Our successes against the insurgents were
universal, but no sooner was the insurrection crushed at one point than
it broke out at another. Communication with Rome had been frequently
interrupted. Large escorts, and even cannon, were necessary generally to
ensure a safe journey from Mola di GaŽta and Fondi to Terracina; but
sometimes impatient travellers would start alone or with slender
escorts, and then fell victims to the banditti and brigands, who
inflicted upon them the most abominable cruelties.
I passed several months
amid these disturbances, not only in the kingdom of Naples, but also in
the Roman States and in Tuscany, whither my command extended; but I
succeeded in maintaining perfect order in the capitals, especially in
Naples, by means of a national guard that I formed, and of the leader of
the lazzaroni, whom I gained over by presents, and by conferring on him
the rank and distinctive marks of a colonel. I also formed the remains
of the Neapolitan army into detachments of troops, in order to employ
those among their officers who displayed the greatest zeal for the new
order of thingsóthat is, for the Parthenopeian .republic; but these
troops soon betrayed us, giving up the tower of Castellamare to the
English, after massacring some of their own officers.
I had resolved to induce
Admiral Caracciolo to take service in the new fleet; he equipped a
flotilla which secured respect for the port and coasts of Naples,
frequently threatened by attempts of the English, who occupied the
islands and were stationed in the roads. I had a somewhat acrimonious
correspondence with one of their captains, Commander l'hrowbridge (sic).
Castellamare was a very
important point and so near Naples that its loss was likely to raise the
flagging spirits of the insurgents. They were prepared to band together,
and this treachery was the signal but I lost not an instant, and marched
in person upon Castellam‚rc. As I crossed Naples I noticed many people
who had already placed the red cockade in their hats. It became
necessary now to strike a decisive blow, so as to prevent this rising
from gaining ground in Naples, where my garrison was but small (except
in the forts, which were well occupied, especially that of Sant'-Elmo,
that existed as a standing menace to the town the fear that this fort
might set fire to Naples had acted as a salutary check upon the
inhabitants). The insurgents from Calabria and Salerno had advanced to
the tower of the Annunziata, and were posted near a brook; I attacked
them to rout and put them to flight was the work of an instant.
While they were being
pursued and sabred in all directions, those who held Castellamare took
fright; some, after a few discharges of cannon, seeing the English put
to sea, rushed into the water to save themselves; the rest yielded; the
principals in the rising were shot. The flags of England and Naples
still remained flying side by side : I promised a reward of twenty-five
louis (20) to whomsoever should bring them to me half an hour later they
were in my hands, though they were not obtained without some loss.
Once more in possession of the tower, I turned the guns upon the vessels
and those who had taken to flight. I must say here that the skilful and
brave Admiral Caracciolo contributed largely with his flotilla to the
success of the expedition. He afterwards fell a victim to the English
admiral Nelson, who cruelly and ignominiously caused him to be hanged
from the yard-arm of his own ship, a death with which I have always
deeply reproached myself; as it was I who overcame his reluctance, and
gained him to our side.
order, giving all the commands necessary to put an end to the rising,
and pursuing those in flight to beyond Salerno, I re-entered Naples,
preceded by the banners and flags of the insurgents, which were burned
next day on the Piazza Reale by the public executioner. The red cockades
had disappeared, and the heat occasioned by this incident had quite
cooled down in the capital.
Still more important
events were, however, looming in the distance. Russia was marching an
army into Italy to join the Austrians, our troops were assembling on the
Adige under General Scherer, and hostilities soon began. While these
events were in preparation I was not inactive ; I concentrated my
troops. A fresh insurrection broke out in the provinces; another
assmblage was dispersed at Cannc at the mouths of the Ofanto. I
attempted to carry out orders by revictualling Malta and the Ionian
Islands convoys started, but not one reached its destination ; they were
either taken or surrendered.
I begged the French
Government to evacuate Naples and Rome, keeping only the fortresses. If
our troops are victorious on the Adige, I said 'they will require to
make good their losses; if they are beaten, they will need
reinforcements and support. There are no troops nearer to them than
mine, and these, in the latter case, will be cut off from all
communication. In the former case, supported by the fortresses, I could
return and reoccupy the two States.' But the principle of keeping
everything, and of not yielding a foot of ground, even to imminent
danger, gained the day, and my suggestions were set aside.
Nevertheless, seeing what
might come to pass, I continued my preparations, under the pretext of
concentration, to parry any attack that might be made on the shores of
the Mediterranean, the Adriatic, or the interior. I indicated a place
which I had not the remotest intention of occupying, feeling persuaded
that I should receive serious remonstrances from various private
interests affected ; nor was I disappointed. I pretended to give way,
and succeeded in having pointed out to me the very place whither I
wished to go--namely, the neighbourhood of Caserta, on the left bank of
the Volturno. No doubt it would have been better from a military point
of view to take the right bank, but to do that I should have had to
disclose my plan; moreover, I had no army in front of me, and should
always have time to cross the river.
I provisioned the forts
at Naples, Capua, GaŽta, Santt-Angelo at Rome, Civita-Vecchia,
Civita-Castellana, and Ancona. Rome was in want of food; famine was
beginning to make itself felt there. I sent provisions. The national
guard and the lazzaroni at Naples were increased; I reviewed them, they
took over the duty, and I withdrew my men. I called in the divisions
scattered in the provinces, and concentrated all before Caserta, where I
established my headquarters. Finally, I caused the miracle of St.
Januarius to be worked for our benefit, being myself present on the
occasion; I will give a description of it later on, as I think that no
one has ever been in so good a position to observe it as Commissioner
Abrial and myself. I had taken careful measures in consequence of the
great concourse of people, and tranquillity was not disturbed. The camp
of Caserta was raised, and brought to the vicinity of Naples during the
ceremony, and the troops did not return till the evening.
This display of force and
other similar demonstrations maintained order in the capital and
neighbourhood. The victualling of the forts and fortresses went on
quickly, as did also that of Rome ; but it was more difficult to keep
open communications, especially with the Adriatic provinces strong
escorts were necessary, and flying columns showed themselves everywhere.
While these arrangements
and preparations, which excited no suspicion, were going on, I caused
all useless matter that could embarrass or encumber the march of an army
to be sent to Rome, and thence into Tuscany. The Commander-in-chief of
the army in Italy had asked for a considerable number of ammunition
waggons; they were despatched to him, drawn by horses hastily
requisitioned. General Eble, whose skill is so well known, constructed a
pontoon-bridge at Capua in order to facilitate the crossing of the
rivers Volturno, Garigliano, and Tiber, which would help us in our
march, and enable us to effect a junction with the Army of Italy,
supposing it were beaten; or, if it stood in need of reinforcement,
would enable us to cross the rivers, or, on the other hand, would be of
service to us both alike, supposing we were obliged to retreat.