Page images

to have been made, as well for the purpose of abridging the reader's labour, as for that of rescuing the publisher from the grievous charge of book-making.

In turning to the narrative of the progressive augmentation of the French force since the reign of Henry IV., we find a most remarkable contrast between the military establishment of those days and of our own. In peace, Henry's whole army, horse and foot, scarcely exceeded 10,000 men; and his strongest garrison, that of Calais, amounted only to 400 men. The expences of his war-department, including the ordnance, the fortifications, and a great many half-pay allowances, were only half a million sterling annually. During twelve years, from 1598 to 1610, France was blessed with peace and a paternal government. In the last of these years, the claims of the House of Austria on the dutchies of Clêves and Juliers induced Henry to form a strong coalition against that power, and to put forth all the forces of his kingdom. His plan of operations was founded on an estimate of 50,000 men acting in the service of France, of whom the half only were to be natives of that kingdom : the rest consisting of Swiss and Germans, among both of whom a military spirit was, in those days, much more general than among the French. His treasury, owing to the vigilance and activity of Sully, was in a highly respectable condition; containing a million and a half sterling in specie, and an equal sum in securities which could be realized at a short notice. When, therefore, to these financial means we add the ample stores in his arsenals, it may fairly be pronounced that the House of Austria was saved, by his death, from one of the most dangerous attacks by which she has ever been threatened. — During a part of the reign of Louis XIII., the numbers of the army in peace were as moderate as under Henry: but after 1620 they were increased; and the yearly expence advanced, partly from inferior management, partly from the fall in the value of money, tɔ somewhat more than a million sterling. The participation of France in the war which was begun in Germany by Gustavus Adolphus led, under the able administration of Richelieu, to a progressive augmentation of the military establishment; and in 1640 it was computed that she had in arms 100,000 men: the expences of the war also having risen to four millions sterling per annum. During the war with Spain, which began in the minority of Louis XIV., and was terminated by the peace of the Pyrenées in 1659, the military force of France appears to have been nearly 100,000 men, and at the peace, the young king, already full of ambitious projects, kept on foot 70,000 men, and took secret measures for adding to their numbers. His invasion of


G g 2

Holland in 1672 having brought both Spain and Germany against him, he was necessitated, in a war of seven years, to strain every nerve for the augmentation of his army, and carried the total of his military force to the unprecedented number of 170,000 men. His successive encroachments, also, having led to the formation of a general coalition against him in 1087, by the famous league of Augsburg, the power of France was exerted to the utmost to resist the joint efforts of Germany, Spain, England, and Holland. It was then that the adoption of the funding system was made subservient to the accumulation of military force; and that the armies of the leading powers of Europe were carried to a magnitude formerly unknown. Large as the establishment of France had been in the preceding war, it now became doubled, and amounted, at the peace of Ryswick, to between 3 and 400,000 men. Such also were its numbers during the long and unfortunate war of 1701: but, after the peace of Utrecht, a great reduction took place. The short war of 1733 was carried on with 250,000 men; and it was not till the campaign of Marshal Saxe, that numbers equal to those of the latter time of Louis XIV. were again called into action. The wars of 1756 and 1777 were not of a nature to require the assemblage of such mighty masses; and accordingly the year 1793 arrived, before France once more counted 400,000 of her citizens in arms.

We now reach the epochi at which France was enabled, by dint of overwhelming force, to repel the combined attacks of all her neighbours, and to carry invasion into the heart of their territories. The numbers, by which these extraordinary successes were obtained, have been so differently represented, that we opened with curiosity a table containing a specific enumeration of the several armies of the republic from 1792 to 1797.

About the time of the battle of Jemappes, (November 1792, ) the whole force of the Republic was only 140,000 men, of whom 50,000 were in Belgium. In December and January, they received considerable augmentations; and the levy of 300,000 men, ordered by the Convention in February, soon brought them to a formidable amount. Numbers were thus supplied in abundance to pursue the contest, on the destructive plan of killing man for man; or on the still more fatal expedient of aiming to carry every thing by an irresistible mass. Such was the policy adopted by the French government in January 1793 Several inonths elapsed, however, before the levies were fit for service, and the repulse of the Duke of York from Dunkirk was their first success of importance. The Army of the North, or, in other words, the French force acting in Flanders, amounted at that time (September 1793) to 120,000


men. Next came the grand levy by requisition, which soon swelled the ranks of the battalions, and sent forth men who became fit for action before the season for commencing operations in 1794. Pichegru was now at the head of the Flanders army, though greatly controuled by the commissaries of the Convention. It is difficult to ascertain the force engaged in particular actions, but the numbers at Pichegru's disposal amounted in the spring of 1794 to 200,coo men, and were decreased in summer only for the purpose of reinforcing Jourdan's army, better known by the designation of Sanibre and Meuse." After the fall of Holland, a pause took place in military operations: but in September 1795 the French crossed the Rhine and invaded Germany with two powerful armies, under the separate commands of Pichegru and Jourdan. It was then that the talents of Clairfait shone forth, and enabled him, by the concentration of his troops, to obtain signal advantages over both those commanders. His plan was to oppose to them a mass of force superior to either when acting separately, though it would have been much inferior if resisted by their united numbers. Beginning with Jourdan, whose lot it has generally been to be foremost in defeat, he drove him back with great loss; and, after having expelled a strong corps of French from the intrenched camp at Mentz, he poured on Pichegru a force with which all the judgment of that General and all the attachment of his companions in arms were unable to cope. In this short but memorable campaign, we may compute Jourdan's army to have been between yo,000 and 100,000 men, and that of Pichegru about 80,000. Next summer, Jourdan again crossed the Rhine, and penetrated into Franconia at the head of 90,000 men, to experience a second and more disastrous defeat at the hands of the Archduke Charles, Moreau had now superseded Pichegru; and the army with which he advanced into Bavaria, and subsequently effected his well known retreat, was 80,000 strong.

We come next to the question of the force with which Bona. parte was enabled to accomplish his signal successes in the cam. paign of 1796. He fought his first series of battles with 60,000 men; and to that number we find his army regularly kept, the éclat of his triumphs inducing the Directory to send him reinforcements which fully made up for his enormous losses. Towards the autumn of that year, sickness had thinned his ranks, and his efficient troops were below 50,000 when he fought the obstinate battle of Arcola :-— but on opening the next campaign, and advancing into Austria, he found himself, by the arrival of 30,000 men from the Rhine, as well as by other supplies, at the head of 100,000 men; a force which


G g 3

empowered him to compel the Austrians to fly, and to end the war by the treaty of Leoben. Meanwhile, Moreau and Hoche were advancing from the Rhine with their respective armies; and it is remarkable that, of the two, the force of Moreau was now the larger, with the view probably of its more immediate cooperation with Bonaparte. It amounted to 75,000; while that of Hoche, or, in other words, that of the Sambre and Meuse, was reduced, by the detachments to Italy, to 55,000 men. - If from these lists of separate armies we turn our eye to the total military force of the Republic, we find that it was carried, in the summer of 1793, to half a million of men actually serving in the field; that in the spring of 1794 it exceeded the number of 700,000 ; and that in the autumn of that year, the season of its greatest amount, it consisted of 750,000 men in the field, with nearly 400,000 in reserve or in sick quarters,

After this, it underwent a progressive diminution; and, from the autumn of

1795, the force in the field fell below half a million.

General Servan is a favourite character with the author of this work. Without being much known as a commander of armies, few men have contributed more effectually by official labour to call forth the military resources of his country. He is a veteran in these matters ; having published, as far back as the year 1780, the well-known work, Le Soldat citoyen; and have ing been the author of many articles on tactics in the Encyclopédie Méthodique. He is distinguished for simplicity of habits, unwearied application, and a most extensive knowlege of his profession. In a great measure, it was to his efforts that France was indebted for those speedy levies in the autumn of 1792 which drove the Prussians from her territory, and enabled Dumouriez to act offensively in Flanders; and had his advice been followed, by forming near Paris a camp of 20,000 men, drawn from the departments, and officered by the King, the horrors of September 1792, and a part of the subsequent murders by the Jacobins, would, in all probability, have been prevented.

Next to Servan, Bernadette was one of the most distin. guished of the French ministers of war. He entered on office in the summer of 1799, in the midst of difficulty and disasters; but so speedily may the resources of France bé rendered operative, that by the month of September her armies were reinforced, and in a condition to act offensively. In 1803, a final separation of the duties of war-minister took place; the direction of the troops, their promotion, destination, and other functions of the commander in chief, remaining with Berthier, while to General Dejean was committed the administrative or


accountant part of the duty, by which is meant the whole armyexpenditure.

In reading of such enormous armies, we are naturally led to inquire by what means it was possible to find pay and subsistence for them. Looking back to the wasteful contests of Louis XIV., we perceive that his military expenditure amounted, in the great war of 1688, to six millions sterling annually, and, in his unfortunate struggle with Marlborough, to eight and even nine millions ; sums of great consequence, when the remarkable difference in the price of commodities is taken into account. To compute the expences of the French government in the enthusiastic years of 1793 and 1794, when assignats were universally current, would baffle all ordinary calculation ; and it is not till 1799 that we are enabled to form any correct idea of their amount. The

pay of the army was then fixed at nearly five millions sterling per annum; and the other expences, exclusive of ordnance, were computed at nine millions more. Bonaparte's peace-establishment (1802, 1803,) was between 300 and 400,000 men; and his military expenditure seems (Vol. i. p. 398.) to have amounted to nearly the fourteen millions sterling of 1799.

During war, he has found means to maintain so large a proportion of his army in foreign states, that his disbursements would scarcely have been greater, had he not immersed himself in an abyss of expence by his ill-fated quarrel with Spain. His effective force, after the winter. campaign of 1805, may be thus stated : Imperial guard

7,000 Infantry of the line

260,000 Light infantry

60,000 Irregular infantry

12,000 Cavalry. Cuirassiers

7,000 Dragoons

25,000 Chasseurs

15,000 Hussars

8,000 Artillery. Flying artillery

3,000 Heavy artillery

14,000 Battalions of the train

8,000 Engineers, sappers, miners, &c.

5,500 Hanoverian legion

1,200 Stationed as guards along the coast



387,700 If we compute Bonaparte's present force, exclusive of his German allies, at 450,000 effective men, we shall probably not be far from the truth.


Gg 4

« PreviousContinue »