Masséna Andre, duke of Rivoli, prince of Essling, Marshal (1804).



Andre Masséna,
duke of Rivoli,
prince of Essling, Marshal (1804).
(Nice, 1758 - Paris, 1817)

Career in teeth of saw for this former adjudant of the royal armies, General since 1793. He gained battles, was made famous for his way of stripping the enemy.


Masséna, wire of tradesman, very young orphan, growed at the devil way. At 13 years, he embarks on a vessel in the capacity as foam. Four years later, he engages in the regiment Royal-Italian where he is useful during 14 years. In 1789, adjudant for several years, he has reached the node of the hierarchy for the commoners. He leaves the army, settles with Antibes, got married.
Engaged in the National Guard, he is quickly named brigadier general on 22 August 1793, then major general on December 20 of the same year.

When Bonaparte is named general as a head of the Army of Italy, Masséna receives the command of the avant-garde. Present with Montenotte, Dego, Lodi, he enters the first the Milanese. In Rivoli, his action is decisive. He became a significant man, about which one speaks a time like possible Director. The Directory charges him with replacing Berthier with the command of the troops of occupation of the States Pontificaux. Masséna represses the insurrection of dissatisfied soldiers hard not to be paid. The officers mean to him that they do not recognize him for head: Masséna must leave his station at the end of three days.

He turns to Bonaparte, writes to him: «What will I become? I have recourse to your kindness, I await you very». Bonaparte does not move. The Directory recalls him in February
1799: the hostilities with Austria began again. Initially controlling Army of Helvétie, the Danube and the Rhine after the dismissal of Bernadotte and Jourdan, he gives an opinion, awaits the fault of the enemy. In September 1799, he beats the Austrians and the Russians in Zurich.

After the 18-Brumaire, Bonaparte sends Masséna in Italy. The Austrians divide the army in two, and Masséna must take refuge in Genoa, in April 1800. After three months of seat, he capitulates on June 4, 1800. His resistance enables him to evacuate the city with the honors of the war. Masséna knows disgrace again, perhaps not to have approved the strike of state of the 18-Brumaire. He is withdrawn in Rueil. Become appointed in July 1803, he votes against the consulate at life. He receives nevertheless the stick of marshal in 1804. The following year, Napoleon recalls him to the command of the Army of Italy. Masséna takes Vérone and occupies the troops of the archduke Charles while Napoleon walks on Vienna.

After the signature of the treaty of Presbourg in 1805, Masséna receives the command of the Army of Naples, whose objective is to install Joseph on the throne. He joined then the Emperor in Poland after the battle of Eylau (February 8, 1807), where he controls the right wing of the Grande Armée to the signature of the peace of Tilsit. Masséna returns to Rueil, with the title of duke of Rivoli. He loses one eye at the time of an accident of hunting.

In March 1809, he organizes a body of 40 000 men and joined the Grande Armée for the campaign of Austria. After the battles of Landshut and Eckmühl (April 21), he manages to take Ebersdorff (May 3), thus opening the road of Vienna. When Lannes is killed in Essling on May 22, Masséna, with the head of the men remained on left bank of the river, must protect the bridge which makes it possible the French Army to be cut off in the island from Lobau. In Wagram July the 5 and 6, he contains large Austrian attack. At the end of this campaign, Masséna is made prince of Essling.

In 1810, he receives the command of the Army of Portugal. After having invaded the country, taken Ciudad-Rodrigo on July 10 and Almeida, Masséna runs up against Wellington, and his fortifications of Torres-Vedras on July 27. Once again, he holds, on standby of reinforcements which will not come. He is forced to withdraw himself in 1811. Once again, he knows the disgrace of Napoleon, perhaps this time for his new depredations. He will not know any more the battle field.

Military governor in Marseille, he remains in function with the first Restoration. During the Hundred Days, Masséna is joined the Emperor. Controlling national Guard of Paris after Waterloo, he is quickly dislocated of this function by Louis XVIII. He dies two years later, at 59 years old.

Text of Alexandra Dalbin