and courageous, Jean Rapp managed to survive two dozen wounds in
his legendary career as one of the best of Napoleon
cavalryman from 1788, Rapp became Louis
Desaix's aide in 1794, fighting with the general in Egypt
and at Marengo.
next appointment was as an aide to Bonaparte himself and despite
the fact he was a staff officer, liked nothing more than to get
into the thick of the fighting.
Austerlitz, Rapp led the Guard
Cavalry in a counterattack that crushed the Russian Imperial Guard
at a crucial stage in the battle.
Aspern-Essling, Rapp disobeyed orders
that would have had him defensively covering the withdrawal of a
French unit. The general went on the attack, secured the position
and stabilised the French position. Instead of being reprimanded,
Rapp was praised by Bonaparte.
good relations he had with the emperor became badly strained over
Bonaparte's divorce from Josephine,
who Rapp felt was badly treated, and over trade restrictions he
avoided enforcing while Governor of Danzig.
returned to the army for the 1812
invasion of Russia, fought as a divisional commander at Borodino
- earning another four battle wounds.
frostbitten during the horrendous
retreat from Moscow, Rapp survived and returned to hold Danzig
against enemy attacks. Despite being badly outnumbered by the Russian
forces and with disease breaking out in the city, Rapp held out
for more than a year.
described the hand-to-hand struggle as "slaughter" and
praised his men for fighting gallantly against terrible odds.
Danzig finally fell, Rapp was imprisoned in Kiev until after peace
was concluded in 1814.
return saw Rapp's loyalty to France and to his former emperor sorely
a furious face-to-face meeting the general told Bonaparte he would
have ordered his soldiers to shoot at him if he had been sent to
intercept his march from exile on Paris.
conversation ended with an emotional emperor holding the general
and giving him command of the Guard.
the approach of the Allied armies in 1815, Rapp was sent to protect
France's eastern borders from some 60,000 enemy troops.
days after Waterloo, he met the
Allies near Strasbourg with fewer than 20,000 men and defeated them
at La Suffel. It was France's last victory of the Napoleonic Wars.
went on to become a Peer of France. He died of cancer in 1821.