Michel Ney, Marshal of the Empire
|Nickname(s)||Le Rougeaud, le Brave des Braves|
|Born||10 January 1769|
Sarrelouis, Three Bishoprics, France
(now Saarlouis, Saarland, Germany)
|Died||7 December 1815 46) (aged|
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris, France
|Allegiance|| Kingdom of France (until 1791)|
Kingdom of the French (until 1792)
French Republic (until 1804)
French Empire (until 1814)
Kingdom of France (until 1815)
French Empire (1815)
|Years of service||1787–1815|
|Rank||Marshal of the Empire|
|Commands held|| VI Corps |
|Awards|| Marshal of France |
Legion of Honour (Grand Cross)
Order of the Iron Crown (Commander)
Prince of the Moskva
Duke of Elchingen
Name inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe
Marshal of the Empire Michel Ney (French pronunciation: [miʃɛl ˈnɛ] ), 1st Duke of Elchingen , 1st Prince of the Moskva (10 January 1769 – 7 December 1815), popularly known as Marshal Ney, was a French soldier and military commander of German origin who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of the Empire created by Napoleon. He was known as Le Rougeaud ("red-faced" or "ruddy") [ page needed ] by his men and nicknamed le Brave des Braves ("the bravest of the brave") by Napoleon.
Marshal of the Empire was a civil dignity during the First French Empire. It was created by Sénatus-consulte on 18 May 1804 and to a large extent resurrected the formerly abolished title of Marshal of France. According to the Sénatus-consulte, a Marshal was a grand officer of the Empire, entitled to a high-standing position at the Court and to the presidency of an electoral college.
The Battle of Elchingen, fought on 14 October 1805, saw French forces under Michel Ney rout an Austrian corps led by Johann Sigismund Riesch. This defeat led to a large part of the Austrian army being invested in the fortress of Ulm by the army of Emperor Napoleon I of France while other formations fled to the east. Soon afterward, the Austrians trapped in Ulm surrendered and the French mopped up most of the remaining Austrians forces, bringing the Ulm Campaign to a close.
The titles of Duke of Elchingen and Prince of the Moskva were created by Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, for the Marshal of France Michel Ney. Both were victory titles; Ney was created Duke of Elchingen in 1808, after the Battle of Elchingen, and Prince of the Moskva after the Battle of Borodino near a branch of the Moskva River, 125 km outside Moscow. In 1814, Ney became a peer of France. On his execution in 1815, the peerage was revoked, but it was restored in 1831.
Michel Ney was born in the town of Sarrelouis, in the French province of the Three Bishoprics, along the French–German border. He was the second son of Pierre Ney (1738–1826), a master cooper and veteran of the Seven Years' War, and his wife Margarethe Grewelinger (1739–1791). He was the paternal grandson of Matthias Ney (1700–1780) and wife Margarethe Becker (d. 1767), and the maternal grandson of Valentin Grewelinger and wife Margaretha Ding. [ citation needed ]His hometown at the time of his birth comprised a French enclave in a predominantly German region of Saarland, and Ney grew up bilingual, due to his German roots.
Saarlouis is a city in the Saarland, (Germany), capital of the district of Saarlouis. In 2017, the town had a population of 34,758. Saarlouis, as the name implies, is located on the River Saar. It was built as a fortress in 1680 and named after Louis XIV of France.
The Three Bishoprics constituted a province of pre-revolutionary France consisting of the dioceses of Metz, Verdun, and Toul within the Lorraine region. The three dioceses were Prince-bishoprics of the Holy Roman Empire until they were seized by King Henry II of France between April and June 1552. At the end of the Thirty Years' War, they were officially ceded to France by the 1648 Peace of Westphalia.
A master craftsman or master tradesman was a member of a guild.
He was educated at the Collège des Augustins, became a notary in Saarlouis and then subsequently became an overseer of mines and forges.[ citation needed ]
Life as a civil servant did not suit Ney, and he enlisted in the Colonel-General Hussar Regiment in 1787.Under the Bourbon Monarchy entry to the officer corps of the French Army was restricted to those with four quarterings of nobility (i.e., several generations of aristocratic birth). However, Ney rapidly rose through the non-commissioned officer ranks. He served in the Army of the North from 1792 to 1794, with which he saw action at the Cannonade of Valmy, the Battle of Neerwinden, and other engagements.
The civil service is independent of government and is also composed mainly of career bureaucrats hired on professional merit rather than appointed or elected, whose institutional tenure typically survives transitions of political leadership. A civil servant or public servant is a person employed in the public sector on behalf of a government department or agency. A civil servant or public servant's first priority is to represent the interests of citizens. The extent of civil servants of a state as part of the "civil service" varies from country to country. In the United Kingdom, for instance, only Crown employees are referred to as civil servants whereas county or city employees are not.
An officer is a member of an armed forces or uniformed service who holds a position of authority.
A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not earned a commission. Non-commissioned officers usually obtain their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. In contrast, commissioned officers hold higher ranks than NCOs, have more legal responsibilities, are paid more, and often have more non-military training such as a university diploma. Commissioned officers usually earn their commissions without having risen through the enlisted ranks.
After the dissolution of the monarchy in September 1792, Ney was commissioned as an officer in October, transferred to the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse in June 1794, and wounded at the Siege of Mainz. Ney was promoted to général de brigade in August 1796, and commanded cavalry on the German fronts. On 17 April 1797, during the Battle of Neuwied, Ney led a cavalry charge against Austrian lancers trying to seize French cannons. The lancers were beaten back, but Ney’s cavalry were counter-attacked by heavy cavalry. During the mêlée, Ney was thrown from his horse and captured in the vicinity of the municipality of Dierdorf; on 8 May he was exchanged for an Austrian general. [ citation needed ] Later in 1799, Ney commanded cavalry in the armies of Switzerland and the Danube.[ citation needed ] At Winterthur Ney received wounds in the thigh and wrist. After recovering he fought at Hohenlinden under General Moreau in December 1800.[ citation needed ] From September 1802, Ney commanded French troops in Switzerland and performed diplomatic duties.[ citation needed ]Following the capture of Mannheim, Ney was promoted to géneral de division in March 1799.
In the Siege of Mainz, from 14 April to 23 July 1793, a coalition of Prussia, Austria, and other German states besieged and captured Mainz from revolutionary French forces. The allies, especially the Prussians, first tried negotiations, but this failed, and the bombardment of the city began on the night of 17 June.
The Battle of Neuwied saw Lazare Hoche lead part of the French Army of Sambre-et-Meuse against Franz von Werneck's Austrian army. The French attack surprised their enemies and broke through their lines. Aside from 1,000 men killed and wounded, Austrian losses included at least 3,000 prisoners, 24 artillery pieces, 60 vehicles, and five colors. For their part, the French lost 2,000 men killed, wounded, and captured. The losses were in vain because Napoleon Bonaparte signed the Preliminaries of Leoben with Austria the same day. The armistice halted the fighting so that both sides could negotiate a peace. The action occurred during the War of the First Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars.
Dierdorf is a municipality in the district of Neuwied, in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany. It is situated in the Westerwald, approx. 20 km northeast of Neuwied, and 20 km north of Koblenz.
On 19 May 1804, Ney received his Marshal's baton, emblematic of his status as a Marshal of the Empire, the Napoleonic era's equivalent of Marshal of France. June 1808, Ney was created Duke of Elchingen. In August 1808, he was sent to Spain in command of VI Corps and won a number of minor actions. In 1809, he routed an Anglo-Portuguese force under Sir Robert Wilson at Baños. In 1810, Ney joined Marshal Masséna in the invasion of Portugal, where he took Ciudad Rodrigo from the Spanish and Almeida from the British and Portuguese, brusquely defeated a British force on the River Côa, and fought at Bussaco. During the retreat from Torres Vedras, Ney engaged Wellington's forces in a series of lauded rearguard actions (Pombal, Redinha, Casal Novo, Foz d'Arouce) through which he delayed the pursuing enemy forces long enough to allow the main French force to retreat unmolested. He was ultimately removed from his command for insubordination.In the 1805 campaign, Ney took command of VI Corps of the Grande Armée and was praised for his conduct at Elchingen. In November 1805, Ney invaded the Tyrol, capturing Innsbruck from Archduke John. In the 1806 campaign, Ney fought at Jena and then occupied Erfurt. Later in the campaign, Ney successfully besieged Magdeburg. In the 1807 campaign, Ney arrived with reinforcements in time to save Napoleon from defeat at Eylau, although the battle ended in a draw. Later in the campaign, Ney fought at Güttstadt and commanded the right wing at Friedland. On 6
The ceremonial baton is a short, thick stick-like object, typically in wood or metal, that is traditionally the sign of a field marshal or a similar very high-ranking military officer, and carried as a piece of their uniform. The baton is distinguished from the swagger stick in being thicker and effectively without any practical function. Unlike a staff of office, a baton is not rested on the ground. Unlike a royal sceptre, a baton is typically flat-ended, not crowned on one end with an eagle or globe.
The Grande Armée was the army commanded by Napoleon I during the Napoleonic Wars. From 1805 to 1809, the Grande Armée scored a series of historic victories that gave the French Empire an unprecedented grip on power over the European continent. Widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest fighting forces ever assembled, it suffered terrible losses during the French invasion of Russia in 1812 and never recovered its tactical superiority after that campaign.
Innsbruck is the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria and the fifth-largest city in Austria. It is in the Inn valley, at its junction with the Wipp valley, which provides access to the Brenner Pass some 30 km (18.6 mi) to the south.
Ney was given command of III Corps of the Grande Armée during the 1812 invasion of Russia. At Smolensk, Ney was wounded in the neck but recovered enough to later fight in the central sector at Borodino. During the retreat from Moscow, Ney commanded the rearguard (and was anecdotally known as "the last Frenchman on Russian soil" because of it). After being cut off from the main army fighting the Battle of Krasnoy, Ney managed to escape in a heavy fog over the Dniepr, not without heavy losses and to rejoin it in Orsha, which delighted Napoleon.For this action Ney was given the nickname "the bravest of the brave" by Napoleon. Ney fought at Beresina and helped hold the vital bridge at Kovno (modern-day Kaunas), where legend portrays Ney as the last of the invaders to cross the bridge and exit Russia. On 25 March 1813, Ney was given the title of Prince de la Moskowa. During the 1813 campaign Ney fought at Battle of Weissenfels, was wounded at Lützen, and commanded the left wing at Bautzen. Ney later fought at Dennewitz and Leipzig, where he was again wounded. In the 1814 campaign in France, Ney fought various battles and commanded various units. At Fontainebleau Ney became the spokesperson for the Marshals' revolt on 4 April 1814, demanding Napoleon's abdication. Ney informed Napoleon that the army would not march on Paris; Napoleon responded "the army will obey me!" to which Ney answered, "the army will obey its chiefs".
When Paris fell and the Bourbons reclaimed the throne, Ney, who had pressured Napoleon to accept his first abdication and exile, was promoted, lauded, and made a peer by the newly enthroned Louis XVIII. Although Ney had pledged his allegiance to the restored monarchy, the Bourbon court looked down on him because he was a commoner by birth.[ citation needed ]
When he heard of Napoleon's return to France, Ney, determined to keep France at peace and to show his loyalty to Louis XVIII, organized a force to stop Napoleon's march on Paris. Ney also pledged to bring Napoleon back alive in an iron cage. Napoleon, aware of Ney's plans, sent him a letter which said, in part, "I shall receive you as I did after the Battle of the Moskowa."Despite Ney’s promise to the King, he joined Napoleon at Auxerre on 18 March 1815.
On 15 June 1815, Napoleon appointed Ney commander of the left wing of the Army of the North. On 16 June Napoleon's forces split up into two wings to fight two separate battles simultaneously. Ney attacked Wellington at Quatre Bras (and received criticism for attacking slowly,) while Napoleon attacked Blücher's Prussians at Ligny. Although Ney was criticized for not capturing Quatre Bras early, there is still debate as to what time Napoleon actually ordered Ney to capture Quatre Bras. At Ligny, Napoleon ordered General d'Erlon to move his corps (on Napoleon's left and Ney's right at the time) to the Prussians' rear in order to cut off their line of retreat. D'Erlon began to move into position, but suddenly stopped and began moving away, much to the surprise and horror of Napoleon. The reason for the sudden change in movement is that Ney had ordered d'Erlon to come to his aid at Quatre Bras. Without d'Erlon's corps blocking the Prussians' line of retreat, the French victory at Ligny was not complete, and the Prussians were not routed.
At Waterloo Ney again commanded the left wing of the army. At around 3:30 p.m., Ney ordered a mass cavalry charge against the Anglo-Allied line. Ney's cavalry overran the enemy cannons but found the infantry formed in cavalry-proof square formations. Ney, without infantry or artillery support, failed to break the squares. The action earned Ney criticism, and some argue that it led to Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo. Debate continues[ citation needed ] as to the responsibility for the cavalry charge and why it went unsupported. Ney's cavalry also failed to spike enemy cannon (driving iron spikes into the firing holes) while they were under French control (during the cavalry attack, the crews of the cannon retreated into the squares for protection, and then re-manned their pieces as the cavalry withdrew). Ney's cavalry carried the equipment needed to spike cannons, and spiking the cannons would probably have made them useless for the rest of the battle. The loss of a large number of cannon would have weakened the army and could have caused the Anglo-Allied force to withdraw from the battle. Ney was seen during one of the charges beating his sword against the side of a British cannon in furious frustration. During the battle, he had five horses killed under him; and at the end of the day, Ney led one of the last infantry charges, shouting to his men: "Come and see how a marshal of France meets his death!" It was as though Ney was seeking death, but death did not want him, as many observers reported.
When Napoleon was defeated, dethroned, and exiled for the second time in the summer of 1815, Ney was arrested on 3 August 1815. After a court-martial decided in November that it did not have jurisdiction, he was tried on 4 December 1815 for treason by the Chamber of Peers. In order to save Ney's life, his lawyer Dupin declared that Ney was now Prussian and could not be judged by a French court for treason as Ney's hometown of Sarrelouis had been annexed by Prussia according to the Treaty of Paris of 1815. Ney ruined his lawyer's effort by interrupting him and stating: "Je suis Français et je resterai Français!" (I am French and I will remain French).When the Peers were called to give their verdict, a hundred and thirty-seven voted for the death penalty, seventeen for deportation and five abstained. Only a single vote, that of the duc de Broglie, was for acquittal. On 6 December 1815, he was condemned, and on 7 December 1815 he was executed by firing squad in Paris near the Luxembourg Garden. He refused to wear a blindfold and was allowed the right to give the order to fire, reportedly saying:
Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, fire!
Ney's execution deeply divided the French public. It was an example intended for Napoleon's other marshals and generals,[ citation needed ] many of whom were eventually exonerated by the Bourbon monarchy. Ney was buried in Paris at Père Lachaise Cemetery.
Ney married Aglaé Louise (Paris, 24 March 1782 – Paris, 1 July 1854), daughter of Pierre César Auguié (1738–1815) and Adélaïde Henriette Genet (1758–1794, sister of Henriette Campan and Citizen Genêt), at Thiverval-Grignon on 5 August 1802. [ citation needed ]they had four sons:
Joseph also had an illegitimate son who was married and died childless.[ citation needed ]
Ney is mentioned and/or appears in several of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's Brigadier Gerard stories, including Brigadier Gerard at Waterloo (1903).
Ney has been portrayed by (among others):
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Pierre-Louis Binet de Marcognet joined the French army in 1781 as an officer cadet and fought in the American Revolutionary War. During the French Revolutionary Wars he fought in the Army of the Rhine and was wounded at First and Second Wissembourg. After being dismissed from the army for a year and a half for having noble blood, he resumed his military career and was wounded at Biberach and Kehl. Promoted to lead the 108th Line Infantry Demi-Brigade, he was in the thick of the fighting at Hohenlinden in 1800, where he was wounded and captured.
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