Jean Baptiste Antoine Marcellin de Marbot
Jean Baptiste Antoine Marcellin Marbot (August 18, 1782 – November 16, 1854), French soldier, son of General Jean Antoine Marbot (1754–1800), who died in the defence of Genoa under Masséna, was born at La Riviere (Correze).
He joined the republican army as a volunteer in 1799. At the time there was no officer school for cadets. He rose rapidly to commissioned rank, and was aide-de-camp to Marshal Augereau, commanding the VII corps, in the war against Kingdom of Prussia and Russia in 1806-7. After this he served with great distinction in the Peninsular War under Lannes and Masséna, and showed himself to be a dashing leader of light cavalry in the Russian War of 1812 and the German campaign of the following year. After a slow recovery from the wounds he had received at Leipzig and Hanau, he was promoted general of brigade by Napoleon during the Hundred Days, and took part in, and was wounded at, the battle of Waterloo.
He was exiled at the second restoration and only returned to France in 1819, after which, however, his intimacy with the duke of Orleans secured him important military positions. After the July revolution he was made maréchal-de-camp, and in this rank he was present at the siege of Antwerp in 1832. He was promoted lieutenant-general in 1836. From 1835 to 1840 he served in various Algerian expeditions, and in 1845 he was made a member of the Chamber of Peers. Three years later, at the fall of Louis Philippe, he retired into private life.
Marbot wrote two pamphlets, Remarques critiques sur l'ouvrage de M. Lieutenant-General Rogniat, intitulé Considérations sur l'art de la guerre (1820), and La Necessité d'augmenter les forces militaires de la France (1825).
Napoleon read the first pamphlet while in exile on St Helena. General Bertrand recorded in his diary on 14 March 1821:
"In the evening, the Emperor handed me Marbot's book, in which he had refuted the remarks of General Rogniat, and said: "That is the best book I have read for four years. It is the one that has given me the greatest amount of pleasure. Marbot had no access to my own refutation of Rogniat, but I would be glad to let him have it for a second edition. He has expressed some things better than I did, he was more familiar with them because, on the whole, he was more of a Corps commander than I. ... Throughout the book he never refers to 'the Emperor'. He wanted the King of France [Louis XVIII] to give him an appointment with the rank of colonel; that is quite obvious. He uses 'Emperor' once, so as not to look as though he were afraid to do so, or to appear cowardly, and another time he uses 'Napoleon'. He mentions Massena and Augereau frequently, and he has described the Battle of Essling better than I could have done it myself. I should have liked to show Marbot my appreciation by sending him a ring. If I ever return to active life, I will have him attached to me as an aide-de-camp. He's an educated man, who expresses himself simply, well, and correctly in writing." 1
This pamphlet earned Marbot the distinction of being remembered in Napoleon's will:
31. Item. To Colonel Marbot, one hundred thousand francs. I recommend him to continue to write in defense of the glory of the French armies, and to confound their calumniators and apostates.
His fame rests chiefly, if not indeed wholly, on the fascinating Memoirs of his Life and Campaigns which were published in Paris in 1891, and iin an English translation by A. J. Butler in 1892. To ordinary readers and to students of history alike, these give a picture of the Napoleonic age of warfare which for vividness and romantic interest has never been surpassed.
His elder brother, Antoine Adolphe Marcelin Marbot, was also a military man of some note.
As with a number of other historical figures, de Marbot figures prominently in the "Riverworld" cycle of science-fiction novels by Philip Jose Farmer. De Marbot is first featured as the commander of Marines on Sam Clemens' riverboat, the "Not for Hire." After the destruction of that boat and the death of its captain, de Marbot joins the group led by famed English explorer Richard Francis Burton and accompanies him on the journey to the head of the River. Accompanied by his lover, the English author Aphra Behn, de Marbot reaches the Tower at the head of the River, only to die in combat when androids based on characters from "Through the Looking-Glass" attack the guests during a Lewis Carroll-themed party.
In Virginia Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway", there are several mentions of Clarissa (Mrs. Dalloway) reading Baron Marbot.
- Napoleon at St Helena, Memoirs of General Bertrand, January to May 1821, Translated by Frances Hume, London 1953
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- Works by Jean-Baptiste-Antoine-Marcelin, Baron de Marbot at Project Gutenberg
- The Memoirs of General Baron de Marbot at Project Gutenberg