The rank of Marshal of France was the highest military rank within the armies of the Bourbons in the days before the French Revolution tore down the aristocratic establishment and signalled a period of change where citizens could rise on merit rather than as a right of birth. Revolution turned to Consulate and-under the seemingly invincible and unstoppable influence of Napoleon Bonaparte-to Empire. In 1804 Napoleon reinstated the rank as the highest attainable by his officers, and he knew his ambitious soldiers well for many fought and died driven by the idea that 'every soldier carried a marshal's baton in his knapsack,' the opportunity to advance in status and wealth for those who might rise to Napoleon's challenge no matter how lowly their origins. Between 1804 and 1815 Napoleon created twenty six Marshals. They were the men upon whom he would depend for victory on the battlefield or whilst conducting campaigns on their own. All cherished their positions and the power, influence and wealth that came with them. All sought to maintain what they had won and this resulted in jealousies and actions often contrary to their masters best interests. They were men who had come from all levels of society, of mixed talents, some brave as lions, others timid and cautious, the clever and the simply methodical, the fiercely loyal and those ready for betrayal at a moment of personal advantage. Some, essentially, had a talent for attracting good luck-an essential trait in the Napoleonic assessment. Here are the origins, victories, defeats and fates of the men who for more than a decade set Europe ablaze in an orgy of fire and blood at the behest of their master, Augereau, Grouchy, Macdonald, Massena, Moncey, Murat, Perignon, Poniatowski, Soult, Victor and sixteen more of Napoleon's men.
1909 Little, Brown and Company Boston