Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Napoleon & the 5th Regiment of the Line
The First real crisis took place at Laffrey, fifteen miles south of Grenoble, where the small band of adventurers found themselves faces by the 5th Regiment of the Line.  Bloodshed was narrowly averted by the coolness of the Emperor, who once again displayed his personal power over soldiers.  Advancing alone be bared his breast to the leveled muskets.  "Soldiers of the 5th, you can shoot your Emperor if you dare!  Do you not recognize me as your Emperor?  Am I not your old General?"  Noticing the growing hesitation, Napoleon won over the waverers by repeatedly adding a piece of blatantly untrue propaganda.  "It is not ambition which brings me among you.  The forty-five best heads of the Government of Paris have called me from Elba and my return is supported by the three first powers of Europe."  With one accord the soldiers broke ranks and flocked forward, shouting "Vive l'Emereur."  The crisis was past an the moment was decisive -- for the first units of the army had rallied to Napoleon and he was consequently once more a force on the international scene.  Grenoble opened its gates and the citizens gave Napoleon a rapturous welcome, while the local dignitaries feverishly sought their old tricolor sashes and locked away the Bourbon insignia.  At St. Helena the Emperor reminisced: "Before Grenoble I was an adventurer; at Grenoble I was a ruling Prince."

~ D. Chandler, The Campaigns of Napoleon, p. 1011

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