Drafted Into The French Army In , Jean Roch Coignet, Would Go Onto Serve In The Napoleonic Campaigns For The Next Sixteen Years Marengo, Austerlitz, Jena, Eylau, Friedland, Spain, Wagram, The Retreat From Russia, Leipzig And Waterloo Coignet Fought In Most Of The Major Battles Of The Napoleonic Wars Despite Being An Illiterate Peasant Of Short Stature He Was Quickly Noticed By His Generals And Within His First Four Years He Was Selected For The Grenadiers Of The Old Guard, A Force Affectionally Named The Grumblers By Napoleon Rising Through The Ranks To His Eventual Position Of Captain, Coignet Provides A Fascinating Depiction Of Life Not As A General But As An Ordinary Soldier In The French Army He Uncovers Life In The Garrison And On The March And Demonstrates The Truth In Napoleon S Maxim An Army Marches On Its Stomach Coignet Explains The Details Of His Various Campaigns From His Moments Of Heroism, Such As When He Received A Musket Of Honor For Single Handedly Capturing An Austrian Cannon At The Battle Of Montebello, To The Mundane, Yet Still Fascinating, Details Of The Day To Day Life In The Guards And Protecting Napoleon S Household His Memoirs Are Particularly Opinionated And Are Enlivened By His Pithy Comments On The Events That He Witnessed Captain Coignet A Soldier Of Napoleon S Imperial Guard From The Italian Campaign To Waterloo Is Essential Reading For Anyone Interested In The Napoleonic Wars And The Lives Of The Soldiers That Fought In It Jean Roch Coignet Was A French Soldier Who Served The First French Empire From To He Fought In Sixteen Campaigns And Forty Eight Battles, Never Having Been Wounded His Memoirs Were First Published Under The Title The Notebooks Of Captain Coignet In And He Died In Well written Clean volume for any age.Doesn t mince words An insider writ of this great generals war trail I guess these folks made war because they had nothing else to do So many thousands lost for fame and glory Waterloo unhinged it all Coignet is the epitome of a childhood commoners dream, sacrafice for country and a hard working patriot any nation should knight Amazing This book is No Memo I accuse the author of laying It s a novel No memo in this level of details as I m very fond of memos book and read plenty of them I can tell this book is a Novel My proof is 1 The level of detail of very trifles things in chapter 1 Beside after Napoleon death, so many wrote their memos in his time it was easy money even his second wife, brother I don blame the author doing so. Jean Roch Coignet lived a very full life at an epoch making period in history Virtually abandoned by a father nicknamed the lover for his 30 plus off spring, and maltreated by the proverbial wicked stepmother, he left home, worked in the fields and was eventually befriended by Potier, a gentleman farmer and horse dealer Under his care Coignet blossomed into a brilliant rider and an excellent judge of horseflesh, and together they made frequent trips to Paris to supply mounts for the Army.When he was conscripted, he left his idyllic surroundings for the mountainous wastes of the Alps at the start of Napoleon s Italian Campaign Showing his physical toughness and bravery, he captured a cannon which was noted by Berthier himself The Iron Marshal Davout conspired to have Coignet accepted into the Imperial Guard by telling him to have two packs of playing cards stuffed into his shoes so that he made regulation height The first commoner to get the Legion of Honour, Coignet had by now caught the eye of his Emperor On many occasions in the future, he was by the side of the great man, serving him at the highs and lows of his meteoric career.He held the King of Rome in his arms and fretted as the child pulled his bearskin plume to pieces, even as he was honoured to have Napoleon s offspring all to himself He was in charge of the Emperor s baggage in 1812 and gives a vivid description of that infamous campaign, including how Ney held back the Russians with just five men armed with muskets during the retreat Taught to read by his comrades at the age of 33, he missed out on being a high ranking officer because of his lack of education Nevertheless, he served with distinction on all the major Napoleonic campaigns.In 1815, once in charge of the Imperial baggage, he was sent on daring solo missions by Napoleon as he had been in 1812 He gives an eye witness account of the Battle of Ligny that is far different from that portrayed by many later historians and his picture of a very energetic and positive Emperor is very revealing On the eve of Waterloo, on yet another solo mission, he is sent to spy on six English cavalrymen, is chased by three of them, and finally kills one in single combat, watched by Napoleon himself After the catastrophe of that battle, he takes it upon himself to fight a Prussian officer at the very gates of Paris, because he didn t like the arrogance displayed by the German He kills him with one blow.Coignet like his compatriot Bourgogne, may have been small in stature, but he was exceptionally brave, tough and resourceful No wonder Napoleon achieved so much with men like that by his side An excellent read
Jean Roch Coignet was a French soldier who served in the military campaigns of the Consulate and First French Empire, up through the Battle of Waterloo He later wrote his memoirs detailing his military service, The Notebooks of Captain Coignet, which are still being reprinted.
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- 04 December 2018 Jean-Roch Coignet