Rachael Stark returns with her monthly Marshal feature, as we look at one of the Marshals who has been pushed to the edge of popular memory: The morally principled MacDonald.
Twitter: @Bookish_Rachael | @zwhitehistory | @NRWGCharity
Rachael's Twitter profile: https://twitter.com/Bookish_Rachael
Attend the War & Peace in the Age of Napoleon Conference: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/napoleonic-amp-revolutionary-war-graves-charity-50212120553
Find out more about the Napoleonic & Revolutionary War Graves Charity: www.nrwgc.com
After a pause the Napoleonicist fortunately continues, this time another marshal, the Duc de Tarente, aska - Etienne-Jacques-Joseph-Alexandre Macdonald. I would agree that he appears to be quite pale and what kind of action is remembered - his brake through column at Wagram - or his leading role in negotiating among Ney and Caulaincourt about the abdication of Boney? I have to read up wabout 1798 / 99 where he apparently was involved in a scandel in Rome and he had a clash with Championet (another forgotten general of the French Republic) but he seemingly recovered and became général en chef of l'armée de Naples, I attach a contemporary photo showing him in full regalia of the 1798 regulations of a général en chef including the side arm which should go along with that rank. He was another one who had to suffer from his attachment to Moreau, even when this later one was accused by high treason by Boney - who was after his neck, but a lot in the army refused and paid hommage to their old chef, like standing up and applauding when he entered the court room. In 1809 he was re activated as a military adivisor of Eugène who did initially not that well in Italy. According to legend he did wear his old French Republican generals uniform instead of an Imperial one. Then he commanded the 10 corps in 1812 and had to watch that York was able to sign the famous convention of Tauroggen, quite another blow to Boney.
Slowly making my way through the marshal episodes. (By the way, is there a place to comment on the one on Murat already? Because I've actually registered just so I could listen to it and ... well, I feel like I do have a couple of things to say 😁.)
As to Macdonald, I was a bit astonished that Yorck's defection was not mentioned in more detail. By the looks of it, Macdonald absolutely messed up there, allowing the Prussian corps to switch sides basically under his nose. Yorck had, by all accounts, shown himself to be cold, anti-French and deliberately slow in following orders. Yet despite this attitude Macdonald left Yorck and his corps completely unsupervised, giving Yorck ample opportunity of manoeuvring himself into a position that forced him to "surrender" to the Russians. So, what was Macdonald thinking? Did he follow orders that did not allow him to hold the Prussians on a short leash? Or did he seriously expect the Prussians to be on the French side?