Jean Lannes

Marshal Jean LannesFrench Marshal
Duc de Montebello

One of Napoleon Bonaparte's closest marshals, Jean Lannes was a courageous fighter, excellent tactician and had no desire for politics.

He loved the army and the battlefield and proved himself time and again, despite being wounded many times and often facing great odds.

He volunteered for the French army in 1792 and served against Spain before transferring to the Army of Italy. He fought at Loano (1st) in 1795 and then joined Bonaparte at the battles of Ceva, Millessimo and Dego.

Commanding elite grenadiers, Lannes led from the front and further distinguished himself at

Mantua, Bassano and Arcola.

By 1798, he was a general of brigade in Egypt where he assisted in the seizure of Alexandria and Rosetta, crushed the Cairo uprising and fought at El Arish, Jaffa and Acre before suffering a neck wound. He was further injured at Aboukir.

Returning to France with Bonaparte, Lannes assisted with the Coup de Brumaire and, in 1800, was promoted to general of division.

Leading the alpine advance into northern Italy, Lannes won the battle of Montebello and soon after held up the Austrians long enough for General Desaix to reinforce Bonaparte at Marengo and help win that crucial battle.

Promoted to the Marshalate in 1804, Lannes next saw action at Ulm and Austerlitz and in 1806 won Saalfield, led the way at Jena and was wounded at Pultusk.

The following year he fought at Heilsberg and had a vital role at Friedland, where he held off far greater numbers of Russians long enough for Bonaparte to bring up reinforcements and crush them against the River Alle.

In late 1808, Lannes was transferred to Spain, won the battle of Tudela and then successfully ended the horrendous siege of Saragossa. He wept when he saw the terrible suffering and death toll that hit the people of the city.

With Austria resurgent in the east, Lannes joined Bonaparte along the Danube in the battles of Abensberg, Landshut, Eckmuhl and Ratisbon, where he led the assault on the walls himself.

His last battle was Aspern-Essling where his advance II Corps held off, against massive odds, the Austrian army while Bonaparte desperately tried to get more troops across the swollen, flooded Danube.

Occupying a strongpoint in the village of Essling, Lannes denied the Austrians for two days.

Unfortunately, during the fighting withdrawal he had his legs crushed by a cannonball and, after the amputation of the left one, died of fever.

The army, and Bonaparte himself, wept at the loss.


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