Sunday, March 01, 2015

The Devil is Unchained

re-en-actors in 2014
On February 26 [1815], Napoleon set sail from Elba, accompanied by Generals Bertrand, Druout and Cambronne, the thousand men of his personal guard and four cannon.  On the first day of March, the Emperor once more set foot on French soil near Cannes.  His arrival took the authorities by surprise; the news took four days to reach Paris, and nine to be relayed to London, but gradually an apprehensive and astounded Europe learned "the devil is unchained."  The French people -- on whose reaction everything depended -- remained calm and observant, awaiting a sign before commiting themselves one way or the other.
If the popular reaction was at first restrained, the local authorities significantly made little effort to apprehend the newcomer. Massena was immediately informed by semaphore telegraph at Marseilles but took no decisive action.  Profiting from the universal hesitation Napoleon pushed inland, selecting for his advance the difficult mountain route to Grenoble -- purposely avoiding Marseilles and teh department of Provence with its traditional Royalist sympathies.

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