Marengo & Hohenlinden: Napoleon’s Rise to Power
By James R. Arnold
“My house began on the field of Marengo.”So spoke Napoleon Bonaparte when reflecting upon his victory over the Austrians in 1800. He recalled a desperate afternoon when his future hung in the balance. Marengo and Hohenlinden: Napoleon’s Rise to Power relates the momentous events that began in the late autumn of 1799. Within a thirty-three day span starting with his return from Egypt, Bonaparte escaped punishment for deserting his army and ascended to ruler of the nation. Yet his position was precarious. At home, political and military rivals abounded. On France’s frontier, the forces of the Second Coalition prepared an offensive to crush the Corsican upstart. Bonaparte knew that France would accept his rule only if he gained military victories that brought peace.
These events provide the story line, beginning with Bonaparte’s rise to power via the coup of Brumaire. Applying his organizational genius to the challenge of overthrowing the government, Bonaparte brilliantly plots a coup. At the last minute his political naivete almost derails him. Only intervention from a most unlikely source saves him.
To consolidate Brumaire, First Consul Bonaparte needs a military victory. To redeem his pledge to France, he needs a favorable peace. To obtain these objectives he must enlist support from his greatest rival, General Jean Moreau. Moreau is a popular, gifted soldier and one who seldom cooperates with anyone. Moreover, he holds deep suspicions about Bonaparte's motives. Their relationship and their actions dominate events during the decisive year of 1800. We follow Bonaparte’s army over the Alps to its fateful collision with the Austrian army at Marengo. Then we turn to Moreau’s campaign culminating in the epic Battle of Hohenlinden. The twin campaigns prove decisive, since the Battles of Marengo and Hohenlinden secure Bonaparte's rule. In turn, the failure of the Second Coalition condemns Europe to a fifteen-year struggle to overthrow him.
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301 pages including 21 maps, 39 illustrations, 3 appendices
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