|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
|Years of service||1787–1815|
|Rank||Marshal of the Empire|
|Commands held|| VI Corps |
|Awards||Marshal of the Empire|
Prince of the Moskva
Duke of Elchingen
Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour
Commander of the Order of the Iron Crown
Named on 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 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.
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 [ citation needed ] (1739–1791). He was the paternal grandson of Matthias Ney (1700–1780) and wife Margarethe Becker (d. 1767), and the maternal grandson of Valentin [ citation needed ] and wife Margaretha Ding. 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.[ citation needed ]
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.
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.Following the capture of Mannheim, Ney was promoted to géneral de division in March 1799.
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
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 on 18 June, 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, Ney 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.
Records in Charleston, South Carolina indicate the arrival of a "Peter Stuart Ney" the year following Ney's execution. Ney's father was named Peter, and his mother's maiden name was Stuart. "Peter Stuart Ney" served as a school teacher in North Carolina's Rowan County until his death on November 15, 1846. Supposedly, upon hearing of the death of Napoleon in 1821, "Peter Ney" slashed his own throat with a knife, nearly killing himself. Upon his death, his last words were "I am Ney of France". His body was exhumed twice, in 1887 and 1936, but both times no conclusive proof emerged. The mystery remains.
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's patriotism, his intelligence and his courage during the Battle of Waterloo has been extensively mentioned and praised by Victor Hugo in his novel Les Misérables.
Ney has been portrayed by (among others):
The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in Belgium, part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time. A French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: an army consisting of units from the United Kingdom, the German Legion, the Netherlands, Hanover, Brunswick and Nassau, under the command of the Duke of Wellington, referred to by many authors as the Anglo-allied army, and a Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal Blücher. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.
Waterloo is a 1970 epic period war film directed by Sergei Bondarchuk and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. It depicts the story of the preliminary events and the Battle of Waterloo and is famous for its lavish battle scenes. It was a co-production between the Soviet Union and Italy, and was filmed on location in Ukraine.
The Battle of Ligny was fought on 16 June 1815, in which French troops of the Armée du Nord under the command of Napoleon I defeated part of a Prussian army under Field Marshal Blücher, near Ligny in present-day Belgium. The battle resulted in a tactical victory for the French, but the bulk of the Prussian army survived the battle in good order and played a pivotal role two days later at the Battle of Waterloo, having been reinforced by Prussian troops who had not participated at Ligny. The battle of Ligny was the last victory in Napoleon's military career.
La Haye Sainte is a walled farmhouse compound at the foot of an escarpment on the Charleroi-Brussels road in Belgium. It has changed very little since it played a crucial part in the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1815.
Honoré Théodore Maxime Gazan de la Peyrière was a French general who fought in the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars.
Emmanuel de Grouchy, 2nd Marquis of Grouchy was a French general and Marshal of the Empire.
Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon was a marshal of France and a soldier in Napoleon's Army. D'Erlon notably commanded the I Corps of the Armée du Nord at the battle of Waterloo.
The Battle of Quatre Bras was fought on 16 June 1815, as a preliminary engagement to the decisive Battle of Waterloo that occurred two days later. The battle took place near the strategic crossroads of Quatre Bras and was contested between elements of the Duke of Wellington's Anglo-allied army and the left wing of Napoleon Bonaparte's French Armée du Nord under Marshal Michel Ney. While the battle was tactically indecisive, Napoleon achieved his larger strategic aim of preventing Wellington's forces from aiding the Prussian army at the Battle of Ligny, which the French won the same day.
The Waterloo campaign was fought between the French Army of the North and two Seventh Coalition armies, an Anglo-allied army and a Prussian army. Initially the French army was commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte, but he left for Paris after the French defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Command then rested on Marshals Soult and Grouchy, who were in turn replaced by Marshal Davout, who took command at the request of the French Provisional Government. The Anglo-allied army was commanded by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army by Prince Blücher.
Marshal Rémi Joseph Isidore Exelmans, 1st Comte Exelmans was a distinguished French soldier of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, as well as a political figure of the following period.
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 Battle of Haslach-Jungingen, also known as the Battle of Albeck, fought on 11 October 1805 at Ulm-Jungingen north of Ulm at the Danube between French and Austrian forces, was part of the War of the Third Coalition, which was a part of the greater Napoleonic Wars. The outcome of this battle was a French victory.
Auguste François-Marie de Colbert-Chabanais, Comte de l'Empire joined the French army during the French Revolutionary Wars. He became a general officer of cavalry during the Napoleonic Wars and fought in a number of major battles under Emperor Napoleon I of France in 1805-1807. He was killed by a long range shot fired by a British rifleman during the Peninsular War in 1809.
The Battle of Winterthur was an important action between elements of the Army of the Danube and elements of the Habsburg army, commanded by Friedrich Freiherr von Hotze, during the War of the Second Coalition, part of the French Revolutionary Wars. The small town of Winterthur lies 18 kilometers (11 mi) northeast of Zürich, in Switzerland. Because of its position at the junction of seven roads, the army that held the town controlled access to most of Switzerland and points crossing the Rhine into southern Germany. Although the forces involved were small, the ability of the Austrians to sustain their 11-hour assault on the French line resulted in the consolidation of three Austrian forces on the plateau north of Zürich, leading to the French defeat a few days later.
Frédéric-Louis-Henri Walther, was an Alsatian-born general of division and a supporter of Napoleon Bonaparte. He fought for France in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars.
Johann Sigismund Graf von Riesch joined the army of Habsburg Austria as a cavalry officer and, during his career, fought against the Kingdom of Prussia, Ottoman Turkey, Revolutionary France, and Napoleon's French Empire. He became a general officer during the French Revolutionary Wars and held important commands during the War of the Second Coalition. He displayed a talent for leading cavalry formations, but proved less capable when given corps-sized commands. During the 1805 Ulm Campaign in the Napoleonic Wars, the French badly defeated his corps and forced it to surrender soon afterward. From 1806 to his death in 1821, he was the Proprietor (Inhaber) of an Austrian cavalry regiment.
The Battle of Günzburg on 9 October 1805 saw General of Division Jean-Pierre Firmin Malher's French division attempt to seize a crossing over the Danube River at Günzburg in the face of a Habsburg Austrian army led by Feldmarschall-Leutnant Karl Mack von Lieberich. Malher's division managed to capture a bridge and hold it against Austrian counterattacks. The battle occurred during the War of the Third Coalition, part of the larger Napoleonic Wars.
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.
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.
Charles Claude Jacquinot commanded a French cavalry division at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. He joined a volunteer battalion in 1791 and transferred to a light cavalry regiment as a junior officer in 1793. He earned promotion to squadron commander and was acting commander of his regiment at Hohenlinden in 1800. After serving in a staff position at Austerlitz in 1805, he led a light cavalry regiment at Jena in 1806. Promoted to general of brigade he led his horsemen at Abensberg, Raab and Wagram in 1809. During the French invasion of Russia he fought at Ostrovno, Smolensk and Borodino in 1812. During the 1813 German Campaign he led a cavalry brigade at Dennewitz and Leipzig. After being appointed general of division he fought at Second Bar-sur-Aube and Saint-Dizier in 1814. During the Hundred Days he rallied to Napoleon and led a light cavalry division in the Waterloo campaign. After 15 years of inactivity, he was restored to favor in the 1830s. Thereafter he held a number of commands and was appointed to the Chamber of Peers. His surname is one of the names inscribed under the Arc de Triomphe, on Column 20.
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