The World's Famous Orations/Volume 7/To the Army in Italy





Born in 1769, died in 1821; served in Corsica and at Toulon in 1793; went to Italy in 1794; to Egypt in 1798; executed coup d'état of Brumaire in 1799, won the Battle of Marengo in 1800; made Consul for life in 1803; Emperor in 1804: won the Battle of Austerlitz in 1805, Jena and Friedland in 1807; fled from Moscow in 1812; lost the Battle of Leipsic in 1813; abdicated April 11, 1814; escaped from Elba in February, 1815; defeated at Waterloo in June, 1815; exiled to St. Helena in October of the same year.

Soldiers, you have, in fifteen days, gained six victories, taken twenty-one stand of colors, fifty pieces of cannon, several fortified places, made fifteen hundred prisoners, and killed or woundedover ten thousand men. You are the equals of the conquerors of Holland and of the Rhine.

Destitute of everything, you have supplied yourselves with everything. You have won battles without cannon, crossed rivers without bridges, made forced marches without shoes, bivouacked without spirituous liquor, and often without bread. The Republican phalanxes—the soldiers of liberty, were alone capable of enduring what you have suffered.

Thanks to you, soldiers! your country has a right to expect of you great things. You have still battles to fight, cities to take, rivers to pass. Is there one among you whose courage flags? One who would prefer returning to the sterile summits of the Apennines and the Alps, to undergo patiently the insults of that slavish soldiery? No, there is not one such among the victors of Montenotte, of Millesimo, of Diego, and of Mondovi!

Friends, I promise you that glorious conquest: but be the liberators of peoples, be not their scourges!

  1. Delivered early in May, 1796, or soon after he had taken command in Italy. He had relieved Scherer in March. The Battle of Lodi was won a few days later (May 10), and Arcole on November 15-17. Napoleon's speeches, with a few exceptions, were proclamations; but in form and spirit, they were orations. This speech was translated "by a member of the New York Bar," for Cormenin's "Eminent Orators of France."
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