© Osprey Publishing
From the publishers:
France's 9th Light Infantry regiment was created as an elite battalion in Louis XVI's Royal Army. After the aristocratic officers fled from the Revolution, command of the battalion fell to a close-knit group of grizzly ex-NCOs, idealistic revolutionaries and a young, battle-scarred captain, Mathieu Labassée. In 1799, as First Consul of the Republic, Napoleon needed a military victory to cement his political power. He drove a hastily gathered army across the Swiss Alps to recapture northern Italy from the Austrians. It was a risky gamble which very nearly failed. At Marengo Napoleon was taken by surprise. His army were in open retreat when the Ninth arrived late on the field. As Napoleon's last hope they were launched forward to stop the Austrians and give the rest of the army time to recover. Their charge was so ferocious it broke Austrian morale and precipitated their headlong flight from the battlefield.
With the crown of France within his reach, Napoleon was generous in his praise for the Ninth, dubbing them 'Incomparable'. They were feted as celebrities in Paris, but success went to their heads, some officers turned to drink, others fought duels against rivals in Napoleon's Guard. A new commander, Claude Meunier was brought in to bring about change: the Ninth's prestige was now at its peak.
From such heady heights, the fear of failure became a powerful motivator. Through successive campaigns in Austria, Prussia, Poland and Spain, the regiment proved its worth.
This is not a traditional regimental history. It is the story of people who were caught up in the blazing trail of Napoleon's epic career. It describes the Napoleonic war machine from within, shedding light on the lives and feats of soldiers on whose toil a spectacular Empire was built and lost.
Place and publisher: Osprey Publishing
Date of publication: 2012
Number of pages: 400