Books Probably Used by Minard on Napoleon in Russia
Thiers. It looks like Chiers but is actually Thiers. He is
Marie-Louis-Joseph-Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877), historian, lawyer, journalist, head of the French
government for about a year, 1870-71. Minard most likely refers to: Thiers' 20-volume Histoire du
Consulat et de l'Empire (c. 1862). A five-volume English translation has the following
information on the title page: History of the Consulate and the Empire of France under Napoleon
by M. Adolphe Thiers, Late Prime Minister of France; Member of the French Academy, and of the
Institute, etc. etc. etc., Author of "The History of the French Revolution." Translated by D. Forbes
Campbell and H. W. Herbert. With notes and additions. vol. IV. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co.
1864. We have volume IV from the UCLA library.
Ségur. You said you have this information. We have his books in French
and English from the UCLA library if you need more. He is Général Cte Philippe-Paul De
Ségur (1753-1830), an aide-de-camp to Napoleon whom Napoleon promoted to brigadier-general at
the beginning of the Russian campaign. Minard most likely refers to Ségur's La Campagne de
Russie, Mémoires d'un Aide de Camp de L'Empereur Napoléon I, first published in 1824
in two volumes and in many later editions. An English translation is Napoleon's Russian
Campaign by Count Philippe-Paul de Ségur, translated from the French by J. David Townsend,
with a new introduction by Peter Gay. Published by TIME, Inc., 1965. Peter Gay points out that
Ségur is "a chief source" for historians of the Russian campaign as well as the source of "at
least four memorable incidents" in Tolstoy's War and Peace.
Fezensac. He is Raimond-Emery-Philippe-Josephe de Montesquiou, Duke of
Fezensac (1784-1867), who participated in many military campaigns including that of Napoleon in
Russia, retiring as a lieutenant general. Minard would have had access to Fezensac's Journal de la
campagne de Russie en 1812, a small book first published in 1849, as well as to Fezensac's book of
1863, Souvenirs militaires, concerning his military career from 1807 to 1814. We have from the
USC library an English translation: The Russian Campaign, 1812, by M. de Fezensac, translated
by Lee Kennett, University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1970. Fezensac's final paragraph (Kennett's
translation) gives a rounded estimate of the number of casualties, then finishes with these thoughts:
"History offers no other example of such a disaster, and this journal can give but a feeble idea of
its extent; but at least I have written enough to preserve the memory of the events which I witnessed,
some of which are little known. Of those who read what I have written I ask only that they share the
emotions which I feel as I conclude this account: I ask them to join me in admiration for so much
courage and sorrow for so much misfortune" (page 128). Besides Kennett's translation from the USC
library, we also have Fezensac's Souvenires militaires de 1804 à 1814, in its fourth edition
published in 1870, from 1870.
Chambray. He is Georges, marquis de Chambray (1783-1848). Minard might have
used Chambray's two-volume anonymous Histoire de l'expedition de Russie. Par M***. Avec un
atlas, un plan de la bataille de la Moskwa, et une vue du passage du Niémen. [With an atlas, a
plan of the battle of Moscow, and a view of the passage of the Niemen]. Paris, Pillet ainé,
1823. [Paris, Pillet the elder, 1823]. We have these volumes from the UCLA library. He has many
tables of information and numbers; he goes through the entire campaign in a play-by-play fashion
similar to that of Thiers. The only sources he cites are the letters of Napoleon and others which he
quotes in full in the notes. According to Paul Britten Austin, "Chambray was an artillery officer. He
would be the campaign's first objective historian." (See Austin's book, 1812, The March on
Moscow (London, 1993), p.372.
Jacob. He is Pierre-Irénée Jacob (1782-1855), pharmacist to
Napoleon's army during the Russian campaign. His journal is published in sections in the Revue
d'Histoire de la Pharmacie, t. XVIII, numbers 189-191, 1966; the journal indicates that it had not
been previously published. We have a xeroxed copy of the journal and the introduction. In number
188, Pierre Julien's long introduction to the journal, gives biographical information and context. It
is unclear how Minard read the journal. Since Jacob's interests were very broad, it is possible that
he and Minard may have been acquainted. According to Pierre Julien's introduction, "Jacob does not
have military heart at all. . . . The war is a horror to him" (page 17). Jacob writes "the men who
are not with the army to kill others and who still preserve some feelings of humanity very often have
to groan and to divert the sight of the hideous tableaux which are presented to their eyes" (page 17
of Julien's introduction). Jacob tells grim tales of finding dead men in the snow, crossing at least
a section of the Beresina with his suitcase on his shoulder and his body in the water, eating horses,
walking with no hat, no scarf, and no gloves through the blizzard.
MINARD'S SOURCES: THIERS, SÉGUR, FEZENSAC, CHAMBRAY AND JACOB
from Dawn Finley, 7 August 2002
Adolphe Thiers (1797-1877)
Marie-Louis-Joseph-Adolphe Thiers is something of a grand homme. Several
biographies of him written in the twentieth century have titles like Thiers and His Century.
He was a prolific historian--the History in its five-volume English translation gives a
month-by-month record of Napoleon's rule, and the original French edition comes in twenty burly tomes.
Early in his career he penned an equally thorough though not quite so extensive History of the
French Revolution (c. 1828). Additionally, he was a lawyer and journalist, and a very important
France's government continually endured upheaval and revolution throughout the
nineteenth century; after Napoleon's fall, the country really fell to pieces. Thiers was a local
public official in Aix-en-Provence, elected to the French Academy and the Academy of Science. Later
he supported Louis-Philippe during the revolution of 1830, and served as a kind of right-hand man to
the head of state. The next revolution came around 1848, and Thiers tried to support the death of
monarchy with the candidate for presidency, Louis-Napoleon (Napoleon Bonaparte's nephew).
Unfortunately, such glamorous power as the French monarchy enjoyed was hard to give up, and
Louis-Napoleon declared himself emperor, to the deepest disappointment of Thiers and many others.
After the fall of the Second Empire in late 1870, Thiers became head of the French government for
about a year. He is often credited with getting the country back on its feet.
Minard would most likely have consulted Thier's Histoire du Consulat et de
l'Empire (c. 1862), which sealed his reputation as the country's historian. It appears to have
been a work without maps or other extensive illustrations. We have consulted the following edition of
the work from the UCLA library (citation information from title page): History of the Consulate and
the Empire of France under Napoleon, by M. Adolphe Thiers, Late Prime Minister of France; Member
of the French Academy, and of the Institute, etc. etc. etc., Author of "The History of the French
Revolution." Translated by D. Forbes Campbell and H. W. Herbert. With notes and additions. vol. IV.
Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. 1864.
Thiers gives a great deal of information about the details of various battles, the
"attitude" of Napoleon when he stepped down from his horse or spoke to a general or official, and the
condition of the army, as in the following tidbit about November 20, 1812: "The weather, although
still very cold, had suddenly become less severe than it had been; but the change afforded no
alleviation to the sufferings of the army, for the moisture which succeeded the snow and ice rendered
the cold more penetrating, whilst it was almost impossible to drag the gun-carriages through the
half-frozen mud" (page 243). He also gives rather impressive analysis of some of Napoleon's less
brilliant military decisions.
Minard would have gained information painted in broad nineteenth-century brushstrokes
from Thiers about not just what happened during the Russian campaign, but why the expedition was a
failure: "Such were the facts that had transpired since the departure of Napoleon, and which we have
already related; disastrous events, due to distance, to cold, to want, to the destruction of all
authority, and especially to that contagious tendency to fall out of the ranks, which, beginning with
the calvary without horses, and the infantry without guns, had daily increased, until at last it had
become a sort of pestilential malady with which the grand army had become immediately affected, and
had perished without having saved it" (page 294).
The History is impressive and intimidating as is the portrait of Thiers himself
which appears on several websites about him. Our ever-meticulous Minard probably learned a great deal
from reading it.
Count Philippe-Paul de Ségur (1753-1830)
Since you indicated you have information on him already, we'll be brief: General
Ségur was promoted by Napoleon to brigadier-general from aide-de-camp at the start of the
Russian campaign. La Campagne de Russie, Mémoires d'un Aide de Camp de L'Empereur
Napoléon I (1824), would have been Minard's source. The first edition was two volumes, but
many later editions were also published, of variable size. Several English translations also exist.
The one we found is translated by J. David Townsend, with an introduction by Peter Gay, published by
TIME, Inc., in 1965.
Raimond Emery Philippe Joseph, duc de Montesquiou-Fezensac (1784-1867)
The Duke of Fezensac was a member of a family with long and deep military history, and
was a relatively young man when he set out with Napoleon for Russia, especially in comparison with his
The volume we consulted in connection with Fezensac is a 1970 translation of his
Journal de la campagne de Russie en 1812, which was published originally in 1849: M. de
Fezensac, The Russian Campaign, 1812. translated by Lee Kennett. Athens, Georgia: University
of Georgia Press, 1970. Minard might also have consulted the expanded Souvenirs militaires,
published in 1863 and giving his entire military experience from 1804 to 1814.
Fezensac was not a cartographer, but a military officer. He made it during this
campaign into the elite circle of Napoleon's military advisors, so he was a witness to the ups and
devastating downs of the whole affair. At the end of this volume, his journal, there are a few
appendices reproduced in translation from the first edition. These give a "Table containing the
Enumeration and Disposition of the Forces led into the Russian Empire by Napoleon," a brief
description of Moscow and the Russians, an "Exact Account of the Losses of the Fourth Regiment," and
an "Itinerary of the Third Corps during the Retreat."
There are two maps on the inside cover of the English edition, but they are credited
to no one in particular. They describe the invasion and the retreat to and from Moscow, but they have
a curiously contemporary aura. On his map of Napoleon's march, Minard writes "Carte de Fezensac,"
which may refer to a map, but may also refer to one of the tables in the appendices of this volume.
Most of the body of the journal describes in detail the retreat of the army from
Moscow. Fezensac's final paragraph gives a rounded estimate of the number of casualties, then
finishes with these thoughts: "History offers no other example of such a disaster, and this journal
can give but a feeble idea of its extent; but at least I have written enough to preserve the memory of
the events which I witnessed, some of which are little known. Of those who read what I have written I
ask only that they share the emotions which I feel as I conclude this account: I ask them to join me
in admiration for so much courage and sorrow for so much misfortune" (page 128).
The first edition of Fezensac's Journal is available on microfilm from the
Center for Research Libraries in Chicago; no one seems to have the hard copy. The fourth edition of
Souvenirs militaires is available for withdrawal from storage and viewing at UCLA, but it does
not have a map, either.
Georges, marquis de Chambray (1783-1848)
We don't have a great deal of biographical information about Chambray, and his texts
are proving somewhat elusive as well.
We located these volumes: Histoire de l'expédition de Russie. Par M***.
Avec un atlas, un plan de la bataille de la Moskwa, et une vue du passage du Niémen. Paris,
Pillet aîné, 1823. 2 volumes.
The atlas mentioned in the title has apparently been cut out of this set. The
original edition is located at Yale (they also have a microfilm copy), and there are also copies at
Stanford and UC Santa Barbara. Franklin and Marshall College, in Pennsylvania, apparently has an
edition of just 5 maps, the atlas independent of the surrounding text.
These volumes also contain many tables full of information and numbers relevant to
Minard's task, which he most likely would have consulted.
Pierre-Irénée Jacob (1782-1855)
Jacob, pharmacist to the Army during the Russian campaign and others, kept a personal
diary of his adventures, the only formal publication of which seems to have been in the Revue
d'Histoire de la Pharmacie, a French journal on the history of pharmacy. The work appeared
serially, with little editing, in the 1966 volume (March, June, September, and December). Pierre
Julien writes in his introduction to Jacob's journal: "Until the end of his life, in any case, Jacob
kept an attachment to his journal: two of the 'synopses' which he drew up of his campaigns are
projected on the back of a death announcement of 1854--the same year which preceded his death" (page
6). Though Julien includes a great deal of information about Jacob and his life, there is no mention
of any published copy of the work. It's hard to say how Minard had access to it, though he may very
well have met Jacob personally at some time or another (Jacob's interests were apparently very broad).
Unfortunately, in May 1812, Jacob got a promotion in the army. He had asked quite
frankly for one, since other younger officers were being promoted and he remained at the same post.
This new one, however, sent him on a terrifying course from France to Germany to Russia and back
again. His service ended in 1814, and he spent most of the rest of his career as a bureaucrat in
According to Julien's introduction: "Jacob does not have military heart at all. . . .
If Jacob were made military pharmacist, it is, one can think, by necessity or chance" (page 17). He
goes on to say: "The war is a horror to him. He says it or proclaims it on many occasions throughout
his journal. As he writes in an addition to his notebook, 'the men who are not with the army to kill
others and who still preserve some feelings of humanity have to very often groan and to divert the
sight of the hideous tableaux which are presented to their eyes'" (page 17).
Jacob tells grim tales of finding dead men in the snow, crossing at least a section of
the Beresina with his suitcase on his shoulder and his body in the water, eating horses, walking with
no hat, no scarf, and no gloves through the blizzard. He was most definitely not a military man.
Before the retreat, he found an abandoned copy of Rousseau's Confessions on the side of the
road and picked it up to read in his spare time. The journal is interesting, if sometimes a bit
tedious, reading. The Revue also includes copies of drawings done by Jacob himself--one is a
drawing of Copernicus (1807, pl. viii).
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