Gaspard, Baron Gourgaud (1783–1852)
Campagne de dix-huit cent quinze, ou, relation des opérations militaires qui ont eu lieu en France et en Belgique, pendant les cent jours: écrite à Sainte-Hélène
Paris: P. Mongie aîné, 1818
Acton.d.23.1374, p. 53
This chapter on the Battle of Ligny, Napoleon’s last victory, is from an account of the Waterloo campaign written on St Helena with the assistance of the former Emperor. Gourgaud was a senior artillery officer who fought with distinction in most of Napoleon’s later campaigns, saving the Emperor’s life on at least one occasion. Present at Waterloo, he voluntarily went into exile with his master after the defeat. The book is among the earliest to use a now-familiar description for Napoleon’s coup in 1815: ‘the Hundred Days’. Understandably, Gourgaud absolved the Emperor of much of the responsibility for defeat. Instead, blame was heaped on subordinate commanders: Marshal Ney in particular had lost some of his spark, and was not the man he once had been. The common soldier at Waterloo, Gourgaud asserted, had true confidence in Napoleon alone.