The Iron Marshal (Paperback)
A Biography of Louis N Davout
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Born into a distinguished Burgundian family in 1770, Louis Nicolas d’Avout began his military career with the French Royal Army but fully embraced the principles of the French Revolution, joining the Republican army as the commander of a battalion of volunteers. He quickly rose to the rank of general of brigade, but was removed from the active list of officers because of his noble birth. Nevertheless, he continued to serve in the Revolutionary army and took part in Bonaparte’s Egyptian campaign. His abilities were recognised by Napoleon and Davout was promoted to general of division and was made a Marshal of the Empire in 1804.
He fought at many of the great battles of the Napoleonic Wars, including Austerlitz, Eylau, Wagram and Borodino. However, he is most famously remembered for the Battle of Auerstedt in 1806 where his single corps encountered and defeated the main Prussian army which was more than twice as numerous. As a consequence, he was granted the title of Duke of Auerstaedt. He was more commonly known as ‘The Iron Marshal’ because of his reputation as a stern disciplinarian.
Regarded as Napoleon’s ablest marshal, he was placed in command of the Hamburg in 1813, which was besieged by the Allies, and only surrendered by Davout after Napoleon had abdicated in 1814. During the Waterloo campaign, Napoleon made Davout Minister of War.
This unique study also touches upon the personal life of a man who, despite commanding unlimited respect, had few social skills. We learn of his successful marriage to the beautiful and well-connected Aimeé and the couple’s struggle with the demands of Parisian social life.
The book is written almost too well. The author really only places the facts upon our plate. You will find bits and pieces about how Davout got on with Napoleon and the generals and soldiers under his command. These are all based on written records. What you will not find is the author coming to his own conclusions about incidents in the Marshal's life. The book should be a boiler plate for other biographers. If it is missing one thing, it is the author's own assessment of Davout as a military leader compared to the other Marshals. However, given the way it was written, one could hardly expect it. I just wanted to see if my ideas matched the author's. Thank you Frontline Books and Casemate Publishers for the chance to review this not only wonderful, but needed book.A Wargamers Needful Things
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Gallagher's book has proven to be the perfect way for me to learn more about one of Napoleon's most capable commanders. Highly recommended.Amazon Customer, Sebastian Palmer
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It's an interesting history.The Armourer, October 2018