May 23, 2006 cameron

#6 – The Army of Italy (part two)

When we last left Napoleon, he had taken the helm of the Army of Italy and was proving his brilliance in matters of strategy and tactics. In this episode we discuss:

  • The Battle of Lodi
  • The Kellerman incident
  • The Bridge over Arcola
  • The Papal States
  • The Battle of Rivoli
  • The Treaty of Campo Formio
  • Napoleon’s role in the future Unification of Italy
  • Josephine’s behaviour while he on campaign

In our next episode, we will follow Napoleon as he enters Egypt!


Comments (37)

  1. Ben

    Fantastic work again guys. A great ”in depth overview” of the 1796-7 campaign. I’m really enjoying the series, and can’t wait for the next installment. Very interested to see what you’ve got to say about the Egypt-Syria campaign.

  2. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    The second episode in Italy was again fascinating! You really show that Napoleon was a great leader who was such a great inspirator for his troops, and that he wasn’t afraid of placing his own life in danger, which shows that he only wanted to do his job as could as possible…! Thanks again and see you in Egypt! Will you tell something about his intention to establish a ‘state of Israel’ and his speech to his soldiers in which he demands respect for the Islam?

    Looking forward already,


  3. Cameron Reilly

    Tim thanks for the feedback! Yeah I’m sure we’ll have to talk about Napoleon’s instructions to his men regarding Islam. And how he personally studied the Qu’ran on the trip to Egypt.

    The most important part of the next episode will be watching the in-fighting between David and I as we both try to be the one to read Napoleon’s famous speech:

    “Soldiers! 40,000 years of history look down upon you…”

    Fortunately, I get to do the editing… 🙂

  4. Mike

    Thanks again guys for a great podcast.

    I believe David asked for questions. Not sure how it will
    work for you, if it means you have to ‘back track’.
    Anyway here’s my (probably stupid) question about Lodi – why didn’t Napoleon just wait until the cavalry arrived on the other side of the river before launching the attack over the bridge?

  5. John

    Love this podcast – wish my school history lessons were delivered as much energy and informality as this

    We will are visiting Italy in June and cant wait to vist the places described

  6. J. David Markham


    Thanks so very much for your kind comments. I love Italy and if you want any tips, just email me at [email protected]. If not, have a great trip, but don’t forget to come back and catch up on our PodCast!

    David Markham

  7. J. David Markham


    Thanks for your kind comments. It is always nice to know that our efforts are appreciated. We all appreciate what Cameron has done to set this up, and I am just glad to be able to have a wonderful excuse to talk at, ahem, some length about my favorite subject! If you ever have any questions, just let us knos!

    David Markham

  8. J. David Markham

    Dear Tim,

    Yes, we will see you in Egypt and the Holy Land. I was in Israel a few years ago, visiting some of the Napoleonic sites, and it is quite amazing. Cameron may get to read that famous speech (though he’d better get right to it, as I’ll be waiting for my chance!), but I’ll tell you the answer to this week’s quiz: What was Napoleon’s biggest mistake during his campaign in the Holy Land? Hint: it had to do with technology.

    This campaign is one of the most interesting of them all, for obvious and not so obvious reasons. Your comment about the establishment of the state of Israel touches on one of the most interesting and important implications of the campaign, as well as his later actions.

    Many historians write this campaign off as lost. As you will hear, I take a rather different view.

    As to the speech that Cameron is intent on reading, he may do so, but I have several snuff boxes and engravings that show that famous battle. Perhaps I’ll post a few on this site.

    Thanks again, and keep on listening!

    David Markham

  9. J. David Markham

    Dear Mike,

    Your question isn’t stupid at all, and I thank you for asking it. The cavalry detachment was a less important part of the attack across the bridge than if often thought. Napoleon’s plan was to take the bridge before or as the cavalry appeared on the scene. Moreover, there was always the possibility that the cavalry wouldn’t find a place to cross the river, so Napoleon needed to act irregardless of cavalry support. His attack was initially successful, but an Austrian counter-attack almost pushed the French back. It was then that the arrival of the cavalry made the difference. I personally believe that Napoleon would have taken the bridge and pushed the Austrians back regardless of the arrival of his cavalry; he simply had superior numbers and the Austrian goal was to delay, not defeat, the French.

    The essence of your question is that of timing, and the fact of the matter is that Napoleon had no idea when, or if, the cavalry would arrive. Thus, he had to act as though he had no cavalry at all.

    Thanks for listening, and please continue to ask any questions that come to mind.

    David Markham

  10. Mike


    OK, think I understand it now. Thank you for clearing that one for me.


  11. gidon

    thank you guys for creating such a great show!
    I live in israel, and I downloaded your show inorder to listen to it while I was doing my reserve (miluim) duty in the army. I started playing it on base, and pretty soon you had an entire paratrooper unit fixated on listening to it…

    we would appreciate it if you could describe a bit more the military life of the time..

  12. UB1222

    Dear David and Cameron,
    I’ve been listening to all the episods since the firs one, and each time you make it much more interesting than the previous one. Thanks for the great job! Just have a minor question: the things that you talk about are written in many books about Napoleon, but I’m sure that there are some details of his life or his action that are much more hard to find, and being people who are interested in Napoleon’s life for such a long period of time, maby you can share some interesting facts about Napoleon and his era.

    Thank you

  13. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    David, concerning your quiz, I thought that is was Aboukir (with Nelson) what caused serious troubles, although Napoleon had send a letter to the fleet saying that it had to take refuge in Corfou…And that in the siege of Saint-Jean d’acre failed due to the lack of the large siege cannons, who were captured by the English…The Pest was of course also a serious problem,…but I do not think that Napoleon could have prevent it…

    See you in Egypt!

  14. Gidon – thanks for the feedback! Just imagine what Napoleon could have done with a paratrooper unit!

    UB – thanks for listening! Everything I know about Napoleon I’ve either found in books or discovered by travelling to Europe and standing in front of antiquities for many many hours. One fascinating thing about Napoleon is the AMOUNT of books that have been written about him and most of it is not in English, so English-speaking authors are always coming up with new and interesting facts and stories. I’m particularly enjoying Adam Zamoyski’s “Moscow 1812” because it contains lots of information on that campaign that I’d never read before. I’ll try to get some of that information into the show when we cover that period.

    Tim – damn that Nelson! If it wasn’t for him, the Brits would all be eating good cheese and driving on the right hand side of the road!

  15. Louis

    Another great episode guys particularity enjoying the little stories and anecdotes loved the one about the soldier still shouting Vive le Emperor while having his leg taken off reminds me of something i read about a certain Marquis de Latour-Maubourg who had his leg shot off at Leipzig,the General’s domestic began to cry after seeing his master’s injury Maubourg seeing the tears replied “What are you crying about, imbecile? You now have one less boot to polish”.

    Cameron and John and other listners what books would you personally recommend, as all Napoleon nuts my collection of books is gradually increasing( LOL we have a lot to choose from)

    I see Cameron your reading Adam Zamoyski’s “Moscow 1812″, excellent book i found it totally engrossing really brings home the horror of the retreat.

    I would recommend the following books to fellow listners

    Campaigns of Napoleon: David Chandler (Currently reading this -the podcast makes for a great companion)

    Napoleon’s Marshals: David Chandler (Excellent book on the Marshals provides a great overview but a bit short if your looking for a in-depth view on any individual marshall.

    Swords Around a Throne: Napoleon’s Grande Armee: John R. Elting (Has some great tales of the Grande Armee)

    The Iron Marshal: A Biography of Louis N. Davout

    Adam Zamoyski – Moscow 1812

    Books im looking to read next.

    The Anatomy of Glory:Napoleon and His Guard – Henry Lachouque.

    The Emperor’s Friend:Margaret Scott Chrisawn

    Many Thanks and remember

    ‘la garde meurt mais ne se rend pas’.

  16. Phil

    Dear Cameron and David –

    Thank you so much for all your good work on this series! I found it by accident on the iTunes directory, where I was looking for nuggts of French history in advance of a trip to France this summer with my wife. I drive to work each day with you two, and now anxiously away each month’s installment. Heck – You’ve even sent me to, where I’ve started my Napoleon book collection with David’s “Napoleon for Dummies.” Thank you for all you’re doing! This is good history and great fun! You’re doing a fantastic job.



  17. J. David Markham

    Dear Listeners,

    I don’t get to the site to answer questions as often as I should. Sorry, and I’ll try to do better.

    Mike, I’m happy to hear that I may have cleared up your question. That doesn’t happen as often as I might hope! 😉

    Gidon, Thanks for writing from Israel. You guys over there really know what its like to be under constant attack. I’ve been there twice and loved every minute. In 1999 the International Napoleonic Society had a Congress there: a fantastic experience. We’ll try to put in a bit more on military life for you. Meanwhile, please give my very best personal regards to all the guys and gals in your unit! You may be very interested when we get to talking about how Napoleon was involved in religious freedom for Jews and even involved in the creation of the state of Israel!

    UB, well, I hope we’ve shared some interesting facts about Napoleon, but we’ll see what we can do to dig up a few more tidbits. I thought the part about how Napoleon may have received his first sex education course from a lady in Paris was pretty good, but I’ll see if I can top that somewhere along the line. 😉

    Tim, you are right, of course, about Nelson, as well as the Pest. But you have still not hit upon the technology connection. Care to have another go at it before I announce it on the show? Cameron will be certain that I don’t forget!!

    Louis, the books you mention are quite good (right behind “Napoleon for Dummies,” right?!! 1812 is especially good. I also like Vincent Cronin’s book “Napoleon.” “The Iron Marshal” is by one of my best friends, John “Jerry”Gallaher, and is an absolute must read for the serious student of the era. Another old friend, Colonel Elting, wrote the definitive work on the Grande Armee. Its long but fascinating.

    And last, but by no means least, my special thanks go to Phil for purchasing Napoleon for Dummies. Glad you like the show (but watch where you are driving!). Have you been to France before? If not, Cameron and I could certainly give you some tips on places to see! If you are a serious reader on Napoleon, you might consider my “Imperial Glory: The Bulletins of Napoleon’s Grande Armee,” which gives you a great idea of what Napoleon had to say about his campaigns. And if you are interested in St Helena, “Napoleon and Dr. Verling on St Helena” would give you a good idea of the soap opera that was taking place there.

    And to all our listeners, many thanks for your support. Please do keep the questions and comments coming!!

    David Markham

  18. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    David, I am happy to learn something more, you are the master, so please tell it during the episode which was the technology-mistake of Napoleon, because if you give me some more time, the other listeners will not be so happy that they have to wait any longer for the next episode…:)

    Cameron, indeed damn that Nelson!

    Vive l’Empereur and see you in Egypt!


  19. J. David Markham


    OK, I’ll make you wait for it. I think you will find it fascinating. When I was there and got a chance to see the situation first hand, I was amazed.

    So I’m the master? Hmmm. Don’t tell my wife, Barbara, that. She might well have a somewhat different opinion! 🙁

    Cameron and I will try to do the next episode soon. Meanwhile, for those of you interested in the Egyptian campaign who might be in New York City between now and mid-September, I recommend you pay a visit to the Dahesh Museum (580 Madison Ave) and see the exhibition, “Napoleon on the Nile: Soldiers, Artists, and the Rediscovery of Egypt.” I loaned the exhibit a few Egyptian-related snuffboxes, but there is far more to see, including a large number of period engravings. I plan to give a lecture there on 12 August, but whenever you can get there, it will be well worth the effort.

    Vive l’Empereur!


  20. UB1222

    Cameron and David,

    Thank you for your response. Wanted to ask, may be you know some russian authors who wrote well informed book about Napoleon, because the only literature I have about Napoleon and his times, is written in russian, and some of them not so good, that is the reason why I’m looking for a better source of information ( I just have limited variety of books to choose from).
    And by the way, Can’t wait for the next episode 😉

  21. Tim Van Dyck

    Dear Cameron and David,

    David, I am looking forward to hear it!…and euh, I won’t tell it your wife concerning the master, you can be at ease 🙂

    Cameron, nice pictures from your trip in Europe!

    Vive l’Empereur!


  22. Mike

    Dear David and Cameron,

    Another question about Lodi occurred to me since you kindly answered my first one. Again it seems simple:
    Why didn’t the Austrians just blow up the bridge?

    Or, as a refinement, why didn’t they put explosives in place, and when they saw they were going to get beat, detonate.

    Thanks again for a great podcast.

    Mike (from the U.K.)

  23. Amanda

    David and Cameron,
    What an amazing idea! I don’t know what I would be doing without my Napoleon podcasts which I listen to while running at the gym or in the car for long periods of time. Really, take your time as far as how much you want to talk about. You do a great job at making this very interesting and as a 17 year old girl, I’m already hooked on Napoleonic History. A friend bought me ‘Napoleon for Dummies’ for Christmas and I loved it! My collection of books is growing as well (Everyone is sure I’m doomed to become a history teacher). So, In the Seattle area are there any Napoleonic museums or places I should go. I live in Portland but often find myself in the Seattle/ Tacoma/ Olympia area?
    Thank you so much for this great gift,
    P.S What is that noise in the back ground of the first few episodes? It sounds like a dying battery in a smoke detector. It’s rather funny!

  24. Amanda, thanks for the feedback! You’ve totally made my day. My ambition for this show was to help people discover a passion for Napolonic history. I’m sure David will be pleased to know someone thought his book would make a great Christmas present!

    As for the pinging sound in the background of the show… we know it’s on David’s side but we haven’t been able to figure out what it is! Drives me crazy!

  25. J. David Markham

    Dear Amanda,

    What a pleasure to hear from you. Tell your friends that they should be so “doomed.” I teach history and love doing it. Needless to say, I am pleased that you are hooked on Napoleonic history and that my book, Napoleon for Dummies, may have had something to do with that.

    You ask about Napoleon in the Northwest. As it happens, the Napoleonic Alliance (of which I am president) is holding its annual conference in Seattle 15-17 September. I would be delighted to see you there (and, for that matter, to see any of our listeners there!). The program will include a tour of my collection and that of a friend, which is close to a Napoleonic museum as you will find in this area.

    Like Cameron, I do this to help people awaken the passion for Napoleonic history that I am certain lies within us all (!), so you have made my day as well, all the moreso because I teach people your age. Thanks for listening and please do let us know how we are doing or if you have any questions.

    David Markham

  26. Jens-Christian Vogt

    Wonderful shows! I am primarily studying the (1st) Duke of Wellington, so Napoleon has been a secondary topic at best – So far. Read about the first episode on the Napoleon Series website and thought that this was first of all a cool application of podcasts and new technology. But, I was trapped, couldn’t wait for the next show (still cannot!).
    Thank you both for delivering these! Look forward to #007 +++.
    best regards
    Jens-Christian, Norway

  27. Jens-Christian, why would you study Wellington when you could be studying someone important!? 🙂

    Wellesely was an average general and an even worse Prime Minister. Just look at the differences in Napoleon’s legacy compared to Wellesley’s.

    Napoleon drove a stake through the heart of the aristocracy of Europe and ushered in the moden era; he gave Europe the Code Napoleon; he lead the West’s re-discovery of our Egyption history; he practically donated half of the continent of North America to the United States; and he gave the concept of meritocracy a shining example to follow.

    Wellesley’s best known act as Prime Minister was the Catholic Emancipation, something Napoleon had done in France 30 years previously!

    As David and I will no doubt discuss in detail when we get to 1815 (which, at this rate, could take us until 2015), Wellington’s forces were defeated by Napoleon at Waterloo until the Prussians arrived late in the day commanded by wily old von Blucher.

    Anyway… glad you’re enjoying the show so far and there should be another episode out this week!

  28. Mike (from the U.K.)

    Dear David,

    I can’t remember which podcast, but I believe you mentioned something about the difficulty of giving speeches to troops and of them hearing the speeches.

    I’m currently reading Benjamin Franklins autobiography.
    You may be interested to know that he tested a preacher
    and estimated he could be heard by over 30,000 people. “This reconciled me to…the ancient histories of generals haranguing whole armies, of which I had sometimes doubted.”

    [‘The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin’, quote is in part 2, at page 67 in my copy which is 103pp – probably online anyway, if you wanted to verify.]

    Best wishes


    Mike (from the U.K.)

  29. J. David Markham


    Let me respond to your two comments. The Austrians only had a relatively small rear guard at Lodi, so they may not have had the necessary equipment. And in any event, it would not have accomplished much, as the French would have crossed the river in any event.

    As to the preacher, well, I’ve been accused of having a voice that loud, but in all three cases (me, Napoleon and that preacher), I have my doubts.

    Folks, sorry there has been a bit of a delay, but I had a funeral and a wedding to attend in the upper midwest (hmmm, sounds like a good topic for a movie). But Cameron and I hope to be at it again this week. Then, sadly, I’m off for two and a half weeks. If Cameron is up to it, we’ll try to record two episodes this week.

    Best to one and all,


  30. Chris

    I just listened to my first episode; unfortunately I started with #6, so I felt like I was coming in to a theatre halfway through the movie.

    However, I am happy to report that I’m hooked. The subject matter is fascinating to begin with, and it only helps to have a couple of hosts who are obviously enthused about discussing this larger-than-life personality.

    Tomorrow, I’ll start fresh with episode #1. I’m looking forward to it.

    Keep up the good work.

  31. Anna from NC

    Another fine episode. I enjoy the letters that provide great insight into the insanely numerous and fast-paced thoughts rolling around in Bonaparte’s head. I also enjoyed the anecdote referring to Napoleon’s military presence as “young madman” with an “intolerable way of waging war.” Wonderful.

  32. Warren in Ottawa

    Thank you for your informative and enjoyable podcast. I have just discovered your cast and am rapidly catching up.

  33. thanks for nothing. I was just trying to find 5 mistakes napoloen made. it is my history homework. Well, i guess u guys work hard and here i am saying “up yours!”. I guess i am not very kind. well thanks for nothing again, keep up the good work i guess……

  34. Dr. Paul-Thomas Ferguson

    Thanks for a very interesting show. I’m enjoying working my way through the podcasts, though I’ll be disappointed when I hit the last one. Looking forward to the ride.

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