Duc de Dalmatie
than 20 years after the Napoleonic Wars
had ended Marshal Nicolas Soult was representing France at the coronation
of Queen Victoria when he was grabbed by the arm by none other than
the Duke of Wellington.
conqueror of Napoleon Bonaparte
is reported to have said: "I have you at last."
comment refers to one of the final campaigns of the
Peninsular War where Wellington was forced to chase Soult's
army through the Pyrenees as the Frenchman led him a merry dance.
was the respect that one of the greatest commanders of all time
had for the son of a baker.
had joined the French army at 16 and his abilities saw him an officer
within six years.
fought at Fleurus, received a promotion to general of brigade in
1794, and then was stationed on the Rhine. In 1799 he took part
at Stockach, became general of division and fought at Zurich.
a marshal in 1804, Soult was given the honour of taking the vital
Pratzen Heights at Austerlitz
and won huge praise from Bonaparte for his tactical abilities.
fought well at Jena, Eylau,
Heilsberg and was rewarded by becoming the Duke of Dalmatia.
for his greed, Soult enjoyed his titles and the accompanying wealth.
1808, Soult went to Spain and chased Sir John
Moore to Corunna where, although
beaten, he put up a monument to his fallen foe and won great respect
from the British for doing so.
surprised by Wellington at Oporto
lessened his standing, although he followed that by beating the
Spanish at Ocana.
1811, Soult found himself up against Marshal
Beresford at Albuera and was
stunned to lose that bloody battle. In awe of British courage, he
said later he had beaten the redcoats, it was just that they did
not know when they were beaten.
the 1813 Campaign, Soult fought
at Bautzen but was rushed back
to Spain to recover the situation after the debacle of Vitoria.
leadership proved outstanding and, in the face of great odds and
a supremely confident British army, managed to stay the inevitable
for almost a year.
with Bonaparte for the 100 Days'
Campaign he became the emperor's chief of staff and did not
perform as well as perhaps he could have.
later years, Soult was used in many senior government position,
including Minister of War, and became one of only a few honoured
with the title Marshal-General of France.