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  • C 1 Mameluk Roustan

    Mameluk Roustan

    Napoleon formed his own Mamluk corps, the last known Mamluk force, in the early years of the 19th century, and used Mamluks in a number of his campaigns. Even his Imperial Guard had Mamluk soldiers during the Belgian campaign, including one of his personal servants.

    Napoleon's famous bodyguard Roustam Raza was a Mamluk who had been sold in Egypt. Throughout the Napoleonic era there was a special Mamluk corps in the French army. In his history of the 13th Chasseurs Colonel Descaves recounts how Napoleon used the Mamluks in Egypt.

    In the so-called "Instructions" that Bonaparte gave to Kleber after departure, Napoleon wrote that he had already bought from Syrian merchants about 2,000 Mamluks with whom he intended to form a special detachment.
    On 14 September 1799 General Kleber established a mounted company of Mamluk auxiliaries and Syrian janissaries from Turks captured at the siege of Acre. General Menou reorganized the company on 7 July 1800, forming 3 companies of 100 men each and renaming it the "Mamluks de la République".
    In 1801 General Rapp was sent to Marseille to organize a squadron of 250 Mamluks under his command. On 7 January 1802 the previous order was canceled and the squadron reduced to 150 men. The list of effectives on 21 April 1802 reveals 3 officers and 155 other ranks. By decree of 25 December 1803 the Mamluks were organized into a company attached to the Chasseurs-à-Cheval of the Imperial Guard. Mamluks fought well at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805, and the regiment was granted a standard and its roster increased to accommodate a standard-bearer and a trumpet.
    A decree of 15 April 1806 defined the strength of the squadron as 13 officers and 147 privates. A famous painting by Francisco de Goya shows a charge of Mamluks against the Madrilene on 2 May 1808. Despite the decree of 21 March 1815 that stated that no foreigner could be admitted into the Imperial Guard, Napoleon’s decree of 24 April prescribed amongst other things that the Chasseurs-à-Cheval of the Imperial Guard included a squadron of two companies of Mamluks for the Belgian Campaign.
    With the First Restoration, the company of the Mamluks of the Old Guard was incorporated in the Corps Royal des Chasseurs de France. The Mamluks of the Young Guard were incorporated into the 7th Chasseurs-à-Cheval.

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  • C 3 Berthier

    Berthier
    As a boy he was instructed in the military art by his father, an officer of the Corps de genie (Engineer Corps), and at the age of seventeen he entered the army, serving successively in the staff, the engineers and the prince de Lambesq's dragoons. In 1780 he went to North America with Rochambeau, and on his return, having attained the rank of colonel, he was employed in various staff posts and in a military mission to Prussia. In the war of 1792 he was at once made Chief of Staff to Marshal Lückner, and he bore a distinguished part in the Argonne campaign of Dumouriez and Kellermann. He served with great credit in the Vendéan War of 1793-95, and was in the next year made a general of division and chief of staff (Major-Général) to the army of Italy, which Bonaparte had recently been appointed to command. He played an important role in the Battle of Rivoli, relieving Barthélemy Joubert when the latter was attacked by the Austrian general Josef Alvinczy. His power of work, accuracy and quick comprehension, combined with his long and varied experience and his complete mastery of detail, made him the ideal chief of staff to a great soldier; and in this capacity he was Napoleon's most valued assistant for the rest of his career. He accompanied Napoleon throughout the brilliant campaign of 1796, and was left in charge of the army after the Treaty of Campo Formio. He was in this post in 1798 when he entered Italy, invaded the Vatican, organized the Roman republic, and took the pope Pius VI as prisoner back to Valence (France) where, after a torturous journey under Berthier's supervision, the pope died, dealing a major blow to the Vatican's political power which, however did not prove as ephemeral as that of the First Empire. After this he joined his chief in Egypt, serving there until Napoleon's return. He assisted in the coup d'état of 18th Brumaire, afterwards becoming minister of war for a time. In the campaign of Marengo he was the nominal head of the Army of Reserve, but the first consul accompanied the army and Berthier acted in reality, as always, as Chief of Staff to Napoleon. "The General-in-Chief Berthier gave his orders with the precision of a consummate warrior, and at Marengo maintained the reputation that he so rightly acquired in Italy and in Egypt under the orders of Bonaparte. He himself was hit by a bullet in the arm. Two of his aides-de-camp, Dutaillis and La Borde, had their horses killed." At the close of the campaign he was employed in civil and diplomatic business. This included a mission to Spain in August, 1800, which resulted in the retrocession of Louisiana to France by the Treaty of San Ildefonso, October 1, 1800, and led to the Louisiana Purchase. When Napoleon became emperor, Berthier was at once made a marshal of the empire. He took part in the campaigns of Austerlitz, Jena and Friedland, and was created duke of Valengin in 1806, sovereign prince of Neuchâtel in the same year and vice-constable of the empire in 1807. In 1808 he served in the Peninsular War, and in 1809 in the Austrian War, after which he was given the title of prince of Wagram. He was with Napoleon in Russia in 1812, Germany in 1813, and France in 1814, fulfilling, till the fall of the empire, the functions of "major-general" of the Grande Armée. Following Napoleon's first abdication, Berthier retired to his 600 acre estate, and resumed his hobbies of falconry and sculpture. He made peace with Louis XVIII in 1814, and accompanied the king in his solemn entry into Paris. During Napoleon's captivity in Elba, Berthier, whom he informed of his projects, was much perplexed as to his future course, and, being unwilling to commit him, fell under the suspicion both of his old leader and of Louis XVIII. On Napoleon's return he withdrew to Bamberg, where he later died.

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