What happened to Napoleon's marshals after 1815

History & Fortress / Fortified Cities Network / Michel Ney

  • * January 10, 1769 in Saarlouis
  • + 07 December 1815 in Paris (execution)
  • Duke of Elchingen, Prince of the Moscow River, Pair de France
  • Marshal in the French Army
  • Napoleon called him "le brave des braves", the "bravest of the brave"

On December 6, 1788, Michel Ney joined the "Colonel Général" hussar regiment in Metz. The call for "freedom, equality and fraternity" of the revolution of 1789 enabled the son of a cooper, in addition to his military talent, personal bravery and exemplary engagement in combat, a steep career in the French Army on the Rhine.


He excelled in all battles in which he took part, such as Ulm, Jena, Magdeburg, Eylau, Friedland. In Spain he kept his brilliant reputation. Above all, however, his courageous commitment in the battle of the Moskva, where Emperor Napoleon called him the "bravest of the brave", as well as his inner size and steadfastness as leader of the rearguard of the "Great Army" during the retreat after the lost Russian campaign left his star The more the emperor's fame faded, the brighter it shone. The "indefatigable", the "Red Lion", as his soldiers called him in admiration, knew how to give fresh courage to the remains of the beaten, hunger-weakened, once so brilliant army that was driven by despair and how to lead them out of the catastrophe.


Lützen and Bautzen saw him as the winner, at Dresden and Leipzig he fought in the front line. After the fighting in retreat in France, it was he who, as spokesman for the marshals and generals, forced Napoleon's abdication.


The emperor returned from Elba to arrest and return to Paris the Ney King Louis XVIII. had promised, dragged him into the abyss. The marshal broke his word, again submitted to Napoleon and finally lost with him the decisive battle of Waterloo.


On December 6, 1815, the Chamber of Peers sentenced him to death by shooting for high treason. The sentence was carried out the following morning, and the "tragic hero", as Karl Balzer called him, found his final resting place in the "Père Lachaise" cemetery.


His hometown, which became Prussian in the same year, honored him, who remained connected to it throughout his life, with the consent of the royal Prussian authorities in 1829 by putting a plaque on the house where he was born. This gesture was not without reverberation in France, after years of controversy, public opinion there finally achieved the restoration of Michel Ney's honor. Felix-Napoleon Ney, the eldest son of the marshal and heir to the prince title, thanked the then mayor of Saarlouis, Jacques Klein, in a letter dated November 10, 1829: "... The spontaneous expressions of appreciation by his compatriots are the most beautiful Reward for a citizen. Happy to praise the one who is worthy of it. Honor of the city, which has expressed it in such a simple and touching way. ... "


Since the "French Days on the Saar" in 1946, the monumental statue of Michel Neys has adorned the Prussian casemate on the "Half Moon", the Vauban Island.




Author: Lothar Fontaine




Last changed on 11/26/2003