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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the Best!!!!!!, November 9, 2008
This review is from: Captain Coignet - A Soldier of Napoleon's Imperial Guard from the Italian Campaign to Waterloo (Paperback)
This book was assigned to me in a Napoleon & Napoleonic Warfare Class, and when first looking at it I was kind of like "YAWN"...zzz.zzz.zzz..lol

However!, this was one of the best books I have EVER read!! This man had a wild "Indiana Jones" type life. I would recommend it to anyone, because it's not just a book for historians, but of the Human experiance of that time period!...I give it an A+++++!!!!
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SMALLEST MEMBER OF NAPOLEON'S GUARD, June 18, 2008
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Johntarttelin (South Yorkshire,England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Captain Coignet - A Soldier of Napoleon's Imperial Guard from the Italian Campaign to Waterloo (Paperback)
Jean-Roch Coignet lived a very full life at an epoch making period in history. Virtually abandoned by a father nicknamed 'the lover' for his 30 plus off-spring, and maltreated by the proverbial wicked stepmother, he left home, worked in the fields and was eventually befriended by Potier, a gentleman farmer and horse-dealer. Under his care Coignet blossomed into a brilliant rider and an excellent judge of horseflesh, and together they made frequent trips to Paris to supply mounts for the Army.

When he was conscripted, he left his idyllic surroundings for the mountainous wastes of the Alps at the start of Napoleon's Italian Campaign. Showing his physical toughness and bravery, he captured a cannon which was noted by Berthier himself. The Iron Marshal Davout conspired to have Coignet accepted into the Imperial Guard by telling him to have two packs of playing cards stuffed into his shoes so that he made regulation height. The first commoner to get the Legion of Honour, Coignet had by now caught the eye of his Emperor. On many occasions in the future, he was by the side of the great man, serving him at the highs and lows of his meteoric career.

He held the King of Rome in his arms and fretted as the child pulled his bearskin plume to pieces, even as he was honoured to have Napoleon's offspring all to himself. He was in charge of the Emperor's baggage in 1812 and gives a vivid description of that infamous campaign, including how Ney held back the Russians with just five men armed with muskets during the retreat!

Taught to read by his comrades at the age of 33, he missed out on being a high-ranking officer because of his lack of education. Nevertheless, he served with distinction on all the major Napoleonic campaigns.

In 1815, once more in charge of the Imperial baggage, he was sent on more daring solo missions by Napoleon as he had been in 1812. He gives an eye-witness account of the Battle of Ligny that is far different from that portrayed by many later historians and his picture of a very energetic and positive Emperor is very revealing. On the eve of Waterloo, on yet another solo mission, he is sent to spy on six English cavalrymen, is chased by three of them, and finally kills one in single combat, watched by Napoleon himself. After the catastrophe of that battle, he takes it upon himself to fight a Prussian officer at the very gates of Paris, because he didn't like the arrogance displayed by the German. He kills him with one blow.

Coignet like his compatriot Bourgogne, may have been small in stature, but he was exceptionally brave, tough and resourceful. No wonder Napoleon achieved so much with men like that by his side. An excellent read!
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5.0 out of 5 stars The classic story of a soldier in Napoleon's Guard, January 2, 2014
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This review is from: Captain Coignet - A Soldier of Napoleon's Imperial Guard from the Italian Campaign to Waterloo (Paperback)
Coignet's story is one that will impress you. He was part of the conscript levy in 1799, fought in the Marengo Campaign and followed Napoleon in every single major campaign through Waterloo. Every campaign is covered in great detail through his own personal experience. He describes even little details that help to give you an idea of what life was like in the army. He does not have an ax to grind against anyone so the memoirs are also very neutral in their assessment. This story is quoted in virtually every history book dealing with the Napoleonic Wars out there. I highly recommend it if you want to know more about life in la Grande Armee.
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