Paid Advertisement
Historynet/feed historynet feedback facebook link Weider History Group RSS feed Weider Subscriptions Historynet Home page

Book Review: With Napoléon’s Guard in Russia, by Major Louis-Joseph Vionnet

By HistoryNet Staff 
Originally published by Military History magazine. Published Online: February 27, 2013 
Print Friendly
0 comments FONT +  FONT -

With Napoléon's Guard in Russia: The Memoirs of Major Vionnet, 1812, translated and edited by Jonathan North, Pen & Sword Books, Barnsley, United Kingdom, 2013, $29.95

Major Louis-Joseph Vionnet served in the Fusilier-Grenadiers, a regiment of Napoléon Bonaparte's Middle Guard. Born in 1769 as the son of an agricultural laborer, Vionnet volunteered to defend the French Revolution from the invading armies of Prussia and Austria, and fought in Napoléon's 1796 and 1800 Italian campaigns before being promoted to captain when the empire was established in 1804. He then fought at Austerlitz and in Spain, and by the time Napoléon invaded Russia, Vionnet was a major in charge of the regiment's 1st Battalion.

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Military History magazine

Vionnet was wounded during the French retreat from Moscow, but as Jonathan North—the meticulous editor of his 1812 journal—states, "The vast majority of the regiment was left in the Russian snow." Although ennobled by Napoléon in 1813, Vionnet's anger against the emperor for what had happened to his comrades in Russia, and his natural conservatism, led him to support the Bourbons, and he even persecuted Bonapartists when given command of the Rhone Department.

This book comprises Vionnet's 100-page account of the French army's crossing of the Niemen River; the destruction of Smolensk; the Battle of Borodino and its aftermath; the burning of Moscow; Napoléon's rescue from Cossacks after the Battle of Maloyaroslavets; the crossing of the Berezina River; and the recrossing of the army into Poland as an utterly shattered force reduced to just 6 percent of its original strength.

A schoolmaster in private life, Vionnet had a fine command of language, which makes his journal immensely readable, with many fascinating insights. "In order to get some water, it was necessary to travel far from the field of battle," he wrote of Borodino. "Any water to be found on the field was so soaked with blood that even the horses refused to drink it."

—Andrew Roberts


Recommended


Leave a Reply

Human Verification: In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.


Related Articles


History Net Images Spacer
Paid Advertisement
Paid Advertisement
History Net Daily Activities
History net Spacer
History net Spacer
Historynet Spacer
HISTORYNET READERS' POLL

Which of these wars resulted in the most surprising underdog upset?

View Results | See previous polls

Loading ... Loading ...
History net Spacer
STAY CONNECTED WITH US
RSS Feed Daily Email Update
History net Spacer History net Spacer
Paid Advertisement

Paid Advertisement
What is HistoryNet?

The HistoryNet.com is brought to you by Weider History, the world's largest publisher of history magazines. HistoryNet.com contains daily features, photo galleries and over 5,000 articles originally published in our various magazines.

If you are interested in a specific history subject, try searching our archives, you are bound to find something to pique your interest.

From Our Magazines
Weider History

Weider History Network:  HistoryNet | Armchair General | Achtung Panzer! | StreamHistory.com
Today in History | Ask Mr. History | Picture of the Day | Daily History Quiz | Contact Us

Copyright © 2014 Weider History. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Advertise With Us | Subscription Help | Privacy Policy