ANDRé MASSéNA (born ANDREA MASSENA) 1ST DUC DE RIVOLI, 1ST PRINCE
D\'ESSLING (6 May 1758 – 4 April 1817) was a French military
commander during the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic Wars . He was one
of the original eighteen
Marshals of the Empire created by
Many of Napoleon's generals were trained at the finest French and European military academies, but Masséna was among those who achieved greatness without benefit of formal education. While those of noble rank acquired their education and promotions as a matter of privilege, Masséna rose from humble origins to such prominence that Napoleon referred to him as "the greatest name of my military Empire." His military career is equaled by few commanders in European history.
In addition to his battlefield successes, Masséna's leadership aided the careers of many. A majority of the French marshals of the time served under his command at some point.
* 1 Early life * 2 Revolutionary Wars * 3 Napoleonic Wars * 4 Retirement * 5 Family * 6 Legacy * 7 References * 8 External links
At the age of thirteen, Masséna became a cabin boy aboard a merchant
ship ; while aboard he sailed in the
Masséna at the Second Battle of Zurich
French Revolutionary Wars broke out in April 1792, Masséna
and his battalion were deployed along the border to
Masséna distinguished himself in battle and was quickly promoted,
attaining the rank of general of brigade in August 1793 and general of
division that December. He was prominent in every campaign on the
During the campaign in Italy in 1796-1797 Masséna became one of Bonaparte's most important subordinates. He played a significant role in engagements at Montenotte and Dego in the spring, and took a leading role at the battles of Lonato , Castiglione , Bassano , Caldiero and Arcola in the summer and fall, as well as the Battle of Rivoli and the fall of Mantua that winter.
When an Austrian relief army was sent to aid Mantua in January 1797,
the French forces were overrun near Rivoli, while other enemy columns
In 1799 Masséna was granted an important command in Switzerland
Charles Edward Jennings de Kilmaine . As Russian
reinforcements marched to support the Austrian armies in Italy and
Switzerland, the Directory consolidated the remnants of the French
armies under Masséna's command. With a force totaling approximately
90,000 men, Masséna was ordered to defend the entire frontier. He
repulsed Archduke Charles 's advance on Zurich in June, but retired
from the city and took up positions in the surrounding mountains. He
triumphed over the Russians and
Alexander Korsakov at the Second
Battle of Zurich in September, then, aware of the advance of Russian
In 1800 Masséna was besieged at Genoa in Italy by the Austrians, while Bonaparte marched with the Army of the Reserve to Milan. By the end of May, plague had spread throughout Genoa and the civilian population was in revolt. Negotiations were begun for the exchange of prisoners early in June, but the citizens and some of the garrison clamored for capitulation. Unknown to Masséna, the Austrian general Peter Ott had been ordered to raise the siege because Bonaparte had crossed Great St. Bernard Pass and was now threatening the main Austrian army. Describing the situation at Genoa, Ott requested and received permission to continue the siege. On 4 June, with one day's rations remaining, Masséna's negotiator finally agreed to evacuate the French army from Genoa. However, "if the word capitulation was mentioned or written," Masséna threatened to end all negotiations. Two days later, a few of the French left the city by sea, but the bulk of Masséna's starving and exhausted troops marched out of the city with all their equipment and followed the road along the coast toward France, ending the siege of almost 60 days. The siege was an astonishing demonstration of tenacity, ingenuity, courage, and daring that garnered additional laurels for Masséna and placed him in a category previously reserved for Bonaparte alone.
By forcing the Austrians to deploy vast forces against him at Genoa, Masséna made it possible for Bonaparte to cross Great St Bernard Pass , surprise the Austrians, and ultimately defeat General Michael von Melas 's Austrian army at Marengo before sufficient reinforcements could be transferred from the siege site. Less than three weeks after the evacuation, Bonaparte wrote to Masséna, "I am not able to give you a greater mark of the confidence I have in you than by giving you command of the first army of the Republic ." Even the Austrians recognized the significance of Masséna's defense; the Austrian chief of staff declared firmly, "You won the battle, not in front of Alessandria but in front of Genoa." Masséna was made commander of the French forces in Italy, though he was later dismissed by Napoleon.
Masséna's sabre, on display at the musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Neuchâtel
Not until 1804 did Masséna regain Napoleon's trust. That year he was
promoted to the rank of
Marshal of France in May. He led an
independent army that captured
In 1808 Masséna was accidentally shot during a hunting expedition
with the imperial suite, it is unclear as to whether he was shot by
It wasn't until 1809 that he was in active service, this time against
the forces of the
Fifth Coalition . At the beginning of the campaign,
he led the IV Corps at the battles of Eckmühl and Ebersberg . Later
in the war, when
Peninsular War ,
Masséna retained his command after the restoration of
Masséna's wife stayed at their home in
The village of Massena in New York was settled by French lumbermen in the early 19th century and named in Masséna's honor. Massena, Iowa , also in the United States and in turn named for the community in New York, honors Masséna with a portrait of him in its Centennial Park. His birthplace, Nice, is the location of Place Massena , also named after him.
* ^ A B Donald D. Horward, ed., trans, annotated, The French Campaign in Portugal, An Account by Jean Jacques Pelet, 1810-1811 (Minneapolis, MN, 1973), 501. * ^ General Michel Franceschi (Ret.), Austerlitz (Montreal: International Napoleonic Society, 2005), 20. * ^ A B "INS Scholarship 1997: André Masséna, Prince D\'Essling, in the Age of Revolution". Napoleon-series.org. Retrieved 2013-03-16. * ^ Rewbell to Masséna, 14 February 1797, Koch, Mémories de Masséna I, lxxxix. * ^ Marshall-Cornwall, Massena, 72-74. * ^ Édouard Gachot, Histoire militaire de Masséna, La Campagne d'Helvétie (1799) (Paris, 1904), 182-473. * ^ Masséna to Ott, 2 June 1800, Gachot, Le Siège de Gênes, 241. * ^ Bonaparte to Masséna, 25 June 1800, Correspondance de Napoléon Ier, No. 4951, VI, 489-90. * ^ James Marshall-Cornwall, Marshal Massena, 115. * ^ Napoleon's Peninsular Marshals: A Reassessment. Richard Humble, 1972. * ^ Monuments and Memorials of the Napoleonic Era. Honoré Charles Reille
* Chandler, David (editor) (1987). Napoleon's Marshals. London: Macmillan Publishing Company. ISBN 0-297-79124-9 . CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link ) * Chandler, David (1966). The Campaigns of Napoleon. New York: Macmillan. * Smith, Digby (1998). The Napoleonic Wars Data Book. London: Greenhill. ISBN 1-85367-276-9 .
* Heraldry.prg - Napoleonic heraldry * André Masséna,