Eble inherited a rag-tag collection of boatmen and formed an invaluable
force of pontoon-bridge makers for Napoleon
is regarded as the man who saved the French Grande Armee that attacked
Russia in 1812 when he and his men braved ferociously cold water
to open a way across the Beresina
he or his men had failed, then the pursuing Russians would have
annihilated the already vanquished-by-winter French.
early career was in the artillery - his father was also an artilleryman
- and within two years of joining in 1793 he was commissioned as
on the German and northern frontiers, Eble became governor of Magdeburg
in 1806 and kept that position until he became Westphalia's Minister
of War in 1808.
to Marshal Massena's army he commanded
the French artillery at Ciudad Rodrigo and Almeida.
was given the pontonniers for the Russian
Campaign in 1812 and during the frightful retreat from Moscow
argued with Bonaparte over whether his mobile forges should be destroyed
against the emperor's orders, Eble kept the vital equipment and,
when the army found itself trapped at the Beresina, was able to
build escape routes.
Russian campaign took a heavy toll on his health, however, and soon
after reaching Prussia he died in Konigsberg.