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chief attack against the French right, and cut it off from the Danube, whilst the other wing of the Austrians was to achieve a similar victory over that opposed to it. Whilst the Archduke was thus strengthening his wings, especially his right wing, Napoleon was concentrating the larger portion of his force in the centre. Ere it could act, the Austrian right wing drove in Bernadotte, who was opposed to it, and even placed Massena, posted between him and the centre, in considerable danger. Napoleon came himself to the rescue, and not without difficulty and with shrewd manœuvres restored the field. He had at the same time concentrated the greater part of his artillery to play upon the Austrian centre. It was unable to withstand the fire of a hundred guns; Macdonald throwing himself with his infantry into the breach, which the artillery had made. This was the decisive moment of the day. The Austrian centre gave way irreparably, and the Archduke withdrew from the field.*
His loss was great, and has been calculated at one third of his army, including more than twelve generals. The resistance of the Austrians was most obstinate and glorious, and yet some blamed the Archduke for retreating. He did so, however, with the remainder of his army in good order. There were nine entire divisions cut off and compelled to surrender, as had been the case at Austerlitz. By rallying the Archduke John in his retreat, he could bring a force into Bohemia which it would require another battle to subdue, and a march northwards by the French, which must endanger their hold of Vienna.
Such circumstances considerably mitigated the severity which it was Napoleon's first intention to display towards Austria. This was no less than to dethrone the Emperor. But dethronement was shown in the case of Spain to be a perilous extremity, placing the
* Archduke Charles, Napoleon, Pelet, Thiers, Ruehle von Lilienstern.
victor and his legions in presence of an insurgent population, instead of that of a trembling court. Soult's repulse at Talavera took place in the same month as Wagram. And whilst master of Vienna, the French Emperor feared for Madrid.* But what chiefly influenced Napoleon in granting terms to Austria, was the manifest proof that Russia was false and weary of his alliance.
Whilst the Archduke Charles was opposing Napoleon, his relative the Archduke Ferdinand had invaded Poland with a force greater than Poniatowski could resist. The consequence was the momentary occupation of Warsaw by the Austrians, which the Russians, notwithstanding their promised cooperation, had done nothing to prevent. In addition to this patent dereliction, a letter from the Russian commander to the Austrian had been intercepted, expressing the predilection, common amongst the Russian noblesse, for Austria rather than for France, and intimating the desire that their united banners might once more float in active alliance.
A knowledge of this circumstance inclined Napoleon to accept the first offer of an armistice on the part of Austria. The Emperor Francis once more placed himself at his mercy. The conqueror would only grant the armistice on three preliminary conditions; the dismissal of the militia, the reduction of the Austrian army by one-half (eventually to 140,000 men) and expulsion from Austrian service of all natives of France. When the further terms of peace came to be stated, Napoleon stood upon the uti possidetis. He had conquered Austrian provinces containing 10,000,000 of population, and 10,000,000 he must have, he did not care where, to add to Bavaria and incorporate with it. The Austrians
*" I fear," wrote Napoleon, two days after Wagram, “the English issuing from Portugal by Abrantes,
and surprising King Joseph at
demurred to such hard terms, when Napoleon threatened to put up his eagles in Vienna, the mark of French domination, to decry the Austrian paper money, and divide the three crowns of Hungary, Bohemia, and Austria. He at the same time declared that his chief object was an alliance which he could depend upon, and that if the present Emperor would abdicate in favour of the Archduke Ferdinand, he would not demand the cession of a single province. That offer was not listened to. By August, however, Napoleon had relented and professed himself contented with 5,000,000 of population. He was satisfied at last with 3,000,000, taking Salzburg and Lower Austria to the Enns, as well as Villach and the Carniola, to afford a free passage from Italy to Dalmatia. The salt mines of Wielitza were handed over to Russia. On these terms peace was signed with Austria, October 14 (1809).*
Napoleon had as many soldiers in Spain as he had upon the Danube. They were not of inferior quality, nor were their generals less renowned. If Davoust and Massena were at Wagram, Soult and Ney were in the Peninsula. Yet the results were not decisive or satisfactory. Undeterred by the retreat of Sir John Moore, Sir Arthur Wellesley took another army to Portugal in the spring of 1809, and within a month from his landing had driven Soult from Oporto, which the French marshal had captured after Corunna, and largely plundered. Having thus succeeded in expelling the French from Portugal, the English commander ventured into Spain, hoping for the active and able cooperation of the Spanish armies. These, however, were no match for the disciplined troops of France. When King Joseph perceived that the English and the Spanish menaced his capital, he came with Victor to repel them. This he thought no difficult achievement. But all the efforts of Victor on the 28th of July, failed to dislodge the
* Bignon, Thiers, Springer.
British general from the heights of Talavera. Assault CHAP. after assault was repulsed, regiment after regiment culbuté, as the French say, and the first regular battle between the French and English, with large and equal forces, took place to the advantage of the latter. The scheme, however, of as yet invading Spain with 25,000 English, whilst the French were so numerous and the Spaniards so undisciplined, proved as vain as in Moore's campaign, and Sir Arthur Wellesley retired to Portugal, which he prepared to defend as the basis of future operations.
The year 1809 was marked by the variety of British attempts to distract or damage the conqueror of the continent. The French fleet was destroyed in the Basque roads. The French West Indies and Bourbon, no longer reinforced, were easily reduced by the English, as were the Ionian islands. Instead of the French invading Sicily, the English roamed along the Calabrian shore. The latter, however, were not fortunate in all their undertakings. An expedition to the Scheldt, chiefly for the purpose of destroying the naval preparations at Antwerp, commenced by a landing in the isle of Walcheren. Here the incapacity and disaccord of the military and naval commanders nullified their efforts, and led to the loss of the greater part of the force employed, which sunk under the fever incidental to the climate.
But an event which promised to have greater importance than even victory upon the fortunes of Europe, and of him who bespoke it, was the marriage of the French Emperor with the Archduchess Maria Louisa of Austria. The campaign of Wagram, it has been explained, had not consolidated the dominant power of France so much as it displayed its weakness. The reverse of Aspern was not quite wiped away by the success of Wagram. The campaign thus victorious was won in some measure by German auxiliaries. Bernadotte, in an order of the
CHAP. day, attributed the glory of Wagram to the Saxons. The XLIII.
assertion outstepped even the mendacity of bulletins. Still it went abroad. An alliance was indispensable to the maintenance of French supremacy. And Russia no longer offered a sure support.
Napoleon had for some time meditated a divorce with Josephine. He had at a much earlier period seriously mooted it, the foibles or lightheartedness of his wife having been exaggerated to him by several of his brothers and sisters, who hated her. There were but civil marriages at the time of his union with her, and though he made his sister at a later date add the religious sanction to the civil contract, he avoided this in his own case until the Pope insisted on it as a preliminary to his coronation. But even this was done in secret. He had at first looked to find heirs to the throne in his family. The eldest son of Louis, christened Napoleon, was a boy of promise, but he was carried off early by disease. Eugène Beauharnais was then considered the future heir, at least of Italy. But though of a mild as well as noble nature, he wanted the military talents and commanding character requisite for any successor of Napoleon, who should not be his son. A feud had always existed between the family of Josephine and that of Bonaparte. Future dissensions between them might prove the ruin of the empire. These considerations, joined to the necessities of an alliance, cemented by closer than political ties, decided Napoleon to a divorce with the Empress, and a second marriage with the princess of a sovereign house.
The friendship which the Czar professed for him at Tilsit and Erfurt, prompted him to apply for the hand of Alexander's younger sister. The reply of the Czar expressed willingness on his own part, but a declaration that his mother was complete mistress in this matter. That princess would not hear of it. Yet, though broached at Erfurt, the negotiations lingered, and after