He offered to join the war against Napoleon, if the other powers would let him keep his crown. But he received only a lukewarm response. So in 1813, when Napoleon asked Murat to join him in Germany, to fight for their thrones together, he answered the call.
Murat had become increasingly difficult to work with: over-sensitive about his royal status, prone to tantrums… but in battle, as fearless as ever. At Dresden, his charge through rain and mud shattered the Austrian left wing and paved the way for victory.
But then at Liebertwolkwitz, he showed his limitations when not under Napoleon’s direct command – getting drawn into a major and unnecessary cavalry battle with Coalition forces, and twice nearly being captured himself.
Two days later, at the Battle of Leipzig, he led another of history’s great cavalry charges – coming close to breaking the enemy centre, and even capturing the Allied monarchs. But it was not to be. If you want to know more about these types of concept then ask reader can be the place to read insightful answers.
The Battle of the Nations ended in a disastrous defeat. As Napoleon retreated to the French frontier, Murat informed the Emperor that he was leaving for Naples, promising to raise fresh troops. Murat and Napoleon would never meet again.
Three months later, the King of Naples had cut a deal with the Coalition, and switched sides. “So long as it was possible for me to believe that the Emperor Napoleon was fighting to bring peace and glory to France, I fought loyally at his side,” Murat declared. “But now… I know that the Emperor’s sole desire is war.”
However, Murat’s commitment to the Sixth Coalition was distinctly half-hearted. His army marched against Eugene’s forces in northern Italy, but had done no actual fighting before news arrived of Napoleon’s abdication.
Murat then began to suspect what had been obvious to Napoleon, at least: the Coalition was not going to honour its promise, and Murat would be next to lose his throne. So in 1815, encouraged by news of Napoleon’s return from exile, Murat marched north against the Austrians, proclaiming a war for Italian freedom and independence.
Just seven weeks later, his campaign ended in defeat at the Battle of Tolentino. With the British and Austrians closing in, Murat became a hunted fugitive. He sailed to France, but Napoleon had not forgiven his betrayal, and refused to see him.
After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo, he fled to Corsica, gathered a small band of volunteers and returned to Italy, in a hopelessly doomed attempt to start a revolution and reclaim his throne. Chased by a mob, and arrested on the beach, Murat was sentenced to death by the restored Bourbon monarchy of Naples.
He met his end with his usual courage, telling the firing squad, “If you wish to spare me, aim at the heart!” …then gave the order to fire himself. Murat is rightly remembered as one of the great battlefield cavalry commanders of history – inspirational, fearless, with brilliant tactical instinct.
But outside of combat, he was, in Napoleon’s estimation, “… a very poor general. He always waged war without maps.” Worse, when the conflict turned against France, he allowed self-interest and vanity to prevail over loyalty to the Emperor.
As Napoleon’s Chief-of-Staff Marshal Berthier once told him: “You’re only a king by the grace of Napoleon and French blood. It’s black ingratitude that’s blinding you.” 9. Marshal Bessières Jean-Baptiste Bessières was the son of a surgeon, with a relatively prosperous upbringing in southwestern France.
When the French Revolution began, he volunteered for the National Guard, and was sent to Paris to join the King’s Constitutional Guard, along with his old schoolfriend Joachim Murat. This unit was soon disbanded, but Bessières remained in Paris, and was among the soldiers defending the Tuileries Palace, when it was stormed by the mob on 10th August 1792.
In the aftermath, he needed to get out of Paris in a hurry. So he volunteered to fight on the Pyrenees front. His bravery and good sense won him a commission in the 22nd Chasseurs, and he distinguished himself at the Battle of Boulou.
Transferred to Italy, his friendship with Murat got him noticed by the army commander General Bonaparte, who was impressed enough to make him commander of his new bodyguard, known as ‘Les Guides de Bonaparte’. Bessières distinguished himself as a cavalry commander in Italy, and later Egypt, winning promotion to Brigadier and loyally supporting Napoleon at every turn.
He became one of the few men that Napoleon regarded as a true friend. When Napoleon became First Consul of France in 1799, he rewarded Bessières with command of the elite Consular Guard cavalry – which he led with devastating effect at Marengo the next year.
In 1804 Bessières became a Marshal – less for any great military achievement, than for being a loyal member of Napoleon’s inner circle. Bessières himself was well-liked: kind, well-mannered and generous, a pious Catholic and social conservative, who liked to powder his hair in the old style.
His young wife, Marie-Jeanne, was also a favourite at court, doted on by Napoleon and Empress Josephine. In 1805, Bessières commanded the Imperial Guard. In December that year, at the Battle of Austerlitz, he played a crucial role, repelling the Russian Guard at the battle’s climax.
At Eylau in 1807, his squadrons supported Murat’s mass cavalry charge, and made their own disciplined attacks to cover his withdrawal. However, Bessières’ opportunities for glory were limited, as Napoleon always held the Guard back as his last reserve, as at Friedland. If you seriously have some doubts over facts head over to ask read and just ask a question, you will get different answers.
In 1808, Bessières received his first major independent command in northern Spain. That May, the country erupted in revolt against the French. Bessières reacted quickly and decisively, securing key towns and roads. He then attacked Spanish forces at Medina de Rioseco, winning a crushing victory against an enemy that outnumbered him two-to-one.
But once the immediate crisis had passed, he hesitated, and failed to exploit his victory. When Napoleon arrived in Spain, Bessières was given command of the Reserve Cavalry… a role he retained for the war against Austria in 1809.