Napoleon is made Commander-In-Chief of the Army of France in Italy by Paul Barras in March 1796 (one week before he married Josephine). A couple of days later, he leaves to join his new command.

In this episode, we talk about:

Building a winning army

  • His key team Berthier, Murat
  • The generals he inherited, Massena, Augereau, how he got them onside
  • The army he inheried the condition they were in, their track record to date
  • How he inspired the troops
  • Who he was fighting and why
  • The first victory Montenotte
  • The lesson of Dego
  • The victory at Mondovi and the Armistice of Cherasco, his first peace treaty
  • And that was all in the first month!


  •  guess this is a good time to start talking about the major recurrent themes in Napoleon’s strategy.
  • Fast movements, the advantage of surprise
  • Flexible strategy, changing tact mid-stream if needed versus slow, rigid opponents
  • Attack the center, split the opposing force, then attack the wings

Napoleon in Victory
You can tell a lot about the man from how he acted towards his opponents after a victory
In the next show, we’ll continue the Italian Campaign of 1796 as Napoleon wins the Battle of Lodi and starts to fully comprehend that he has a special destiny!